16 December 2011

The True America

Identifying America

As we start to get older, we tend to start seeing who we really are as a person and start to identify what other people’s characteristics, personalities, and goals truly are. As I was growing up, my identity was all over the place. Things constantly changed, such as friends, lifestyles, interests, and my understanding for life. Also, as you matures you start to realize more serious matters such as government, money, family problems, etc. And when you begin to understand more about these serious matters, you may also catch yourself identifying them differently than you would have when you did not understand. My identity and how I identify America are important to me because it shows who I truly am and how America actually is as well.

Throughout life, your identity and who you are as a person changes every day. My identity has changed drastically over the last few years since moving away from home and into college. Back in high school I was on the football team, honor roll, Boy Scouts, very family-oriented and never drank or smoked anything. Today I currently play no sports competitively, have joined a fraternity, have picked up both drinking and smoking, currently have a 2.9 GPA, but still have stayed very family-oriented. If I were to define myself I’d say I am a very humble yet outspoken guy that is extremely into his social life, family, and future. But without my family raising me the way they did, I don’t believe these same characteristics would be true. In the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua, she talks about how raising her daughters in a strict manor caused one to be really obedient and another to be very disobedient. I was raised similarly to Sophie and Lulu but not as intensely and turned out quite similar--more of a mix of the two, rather.

I recently became more involved in my social life because in high school I was awkward, sheltered and was not a social butterfly whatsoever. When I came to college I told myself that this needed to change. Seeing as I was basically starting a new life, I made sure I made friends with a ton of people and got myself involved in groups and clubs. This strategy helped me to break out of my awkward shell and do things I never thought I would ever experience, such as joining a fraternity and being able to make so many friends. I also happened to become more family-oriented as well during my freshman year, but this was unintentional. In December of 2009, my grandfather had fell into a coma and never came out. As he was taken off of life support, I held his hand while the rest of my family watched sorrowfully as the heart rate machine slowly went flat. Not only was the death of my grandfather tragic, but seeing my handicapped grandmother be alone in her house was saddening too. Since my grandfather has passed away I have made a huge effort to see my family members and help them out as much as possible because you never know when something will happen and you will never see them again. But besides being loyal to my family, I haven’t really looked into or been interested in where I am really from. I know that I am of Czech, Irish, German, and English descent but other than that I couldn’t tell you really how my family came to be here in America.

When I was younger, I always thought America was the home of the brave, the red white and blue that could never be touched, and our government was out to make the world a better place than it was before! Oh how I was wrong. Since I’ve come to college, my view and take on our government and America has taken a turn for the worst. I mainly started hating our government because I started learning more about marijuana. Now this might sound extremely “hippyish” if you will, but it’s not about getting high whatsoever. It’s more about lobbying, money, and politics that sparked my interest.

After smoking marijuana for about a year I started to research more about why it is still to this day illegal. What I had found in my research was much different than I expected to find. I learned that marijuana has never killed a single person ever; it is a phenomenal medication treating many things such as multiple sclerosis, anxiety, and depression--it even lowers growth in cancer cells. I also learned that hemp, the male form of marijuana, is the strongest soft fiber known to man, cannot get someone high, yet is still illegal in many places. So why are there so many positive things coming from just a simple little plant that is so illegal in many places? The answer to this question is simple. Some of the two biggest industries in America today are pharmaceuticals and timber, and these industries can use lobbying to their advantage and pay politicians to vote on what they want to see passed. For example, a new bill arrives in Congress to legalize the sale and distribution of marijuana in stores. If this bill were to pass, the pharmaceutical industry would take a serious hit, seeing as this new “medication” can be grown in one’s home at almost no expense. Yes of course people would still be buying medicine for many other different symptoms, but when you can grow your own medicine without having to fill a prescription or pay the pharmacy tons of money, why would you?

But it is not only marijuana that is made illegal or less popular due to lobbyists. The timber industry and the oil industry are also two of the top industries in the nation and they also pay politicians to vote in favor of them. Cutting down trees and burning non-renewable resources is terrible for our environment and has in turn changed the world since we started this awful habit, yet our government hasn’t done much about it to fix it. The technology for an electric car or other means of transportation using electricity such as monorails has been around for centuries and we are now just starting to utilize it. And as for the timber industry, there are many other soft fibers we can make from plants such as hemp, fiber stone, and even elephant feces! There is no need to cut down our forests when there are plenty of other sources for paper. After realizing that our government is basically paid to do what is good for the corporation and not good for the economy or society I began to wonder, why is our government so greedy? Do politicians really need more money to feel better about themselves? This affected me directly because I now think of all authority this way. Police, judges, sometimes even professors I feel are just out to do what’s better for themselves and not what’s better for the community or their students. I know this is strictly just paranoia but this how I think of it. If the top leaders of our country can be as corrupt as they are, who is to say this shady technique doesn’t trickle down to the lower spectrum?   

Seeing all of this made me tremendously upset and shocked. I realized now that our economy and environment could be running much more efficiently if what we are doing now could be changed. Not only that, but if they are mainly keeping these things around because the lobbyists can pay the politicians a large amount of money to keep it that way, what else are they doing strictly based on being paid? This question made me realize that our country's identity is not what I thought it was. American politics are not about red white and blue, but more about the color green. My new belief on American identity is that the people who run our country are nothing more than greedy fat cats that will do anything to keep their pockets and wallets full.

Something else that piqued my interest just recently was the fact that our government is making our freedom to do almost anything very limited. I only just learned that our government wants to oversee more of what we do on our private time. This includes what we do on the internet, where we're going by using public transit, even detaining people who “maybe” are terrorists! I am sorry but whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? There is evidence showing that innocent people have been put into the Guantanamo Bay holding facility and have been tortured for many years, just to be let go and be told “ok you’re free to go, have a nice day.” Our government has become too power hungry over the years and it needs to end. I remember learning in high school that during World War II, Japanese Americans were detained just for being Japanese. I was told this was extremely immoral then so what makes what we are doing today any less immoral?  The science fiction novel Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow, portrays a society that is similar to what I feel we are reaching here today in America. At one point in the book, the protagonist named Marcus is scooped by the police and taken back to his mother’s home. They are accusing him of possible terrorism, drug dealing, or stealing, strictly based on his travels on public transit. They said they tracked him easily on his transit card. Who says our government can’t do the same exact thing?

Another topic that should be addressed similar to the same issue is the control of immigration and how illegal immigrants are treated and dealt with. The book titled The Death of Josseline, by Margaret Regan, talks about how Mexicans cross over from Mexico to America and how dangerous and expensive it could possibly be for individuals and their families. It also discusses how border patrol officers can sometimes be very brutal and seriously injure these people. Another thing about this topic that we discussed in class that really seemed strange yet was not surprising was the fact that they let a certain amount of immigrants in to do jobs Americans don’t want to do. I think this is absurd! Our unemployment rate is through the roof and people all over are scurrying around looking for jobs yet our government is still giving some of these jobs to people that don’t belong in this country.

I don’t like thinking of America in this way but after looking into why politicians aren’t making certain decisions, it made me realize that they really are only into making money. The way America’s identity should be is obviously very clear. I agree completely with the Tea Party activists that are currently protesting all over the country that are saying America needs to go back to its roots. Not to the point where we are limiting our racial boundaries but where our government was more centralized around our country and not every other country that has a problem. In connection with that statement, I believe our country needs to have much better money management skills so they can take us out of a trillion-dollar debt. I say we can start doing this by giving people who actually are citizens of America jobs before illegal aliens. But I also believe that our politicians have great money management skills, although just for themselves, not for our country.

Our country, as of now, is in an extreme amount of unnecessary debt. Our money is spent on things such as war, oil, less-than-par programs and so on. I believe our country is spending so much on war mainly for oil in these foreign countries. It is very evident that the big corporate “fat cats” of the oil companies have a big say in what politicians vote on. Mainly because there have been studies of new renewable resources that can be used to replace oil, yet our country’s automobile companies have been at a snail’s pace trying to incorporate them into the newest cars. It is not only with oil but with multiple industries that have been mentioned previously including timber, which can be replaced by hemp; pharmaceutical, which can be replaced with other herbal remedies instead of pills that fix one thing but cause a great number of side effects; and multiple other industries.

Basically, I believe that America’s identity has changed from colonial, high nationalism spirit to a corporate “fat cat” run country that is nothing but driven by money. I understand that lobbyists will always be around but I believe that we should go back to when our country was more about the red white and blue instead of green green and green. With this being said I think that I personally won’t be able to do anything about this. Not only can I do nothing but I believe that other people won’t be able to, either--seeing that we have been having protests such as Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Partiers and nothing has changed. I have accepted the fact that our nation is changing and has already drastically changed. So I’ve taken the old phrase, if you can beat them, join them. I plan to take my major, business administration, and join the “1%” so I can live above the rest as the other 1% does today.

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