The Privilege of Being an American
1. I can be my own person, worshipping and loving whomever I want, pursuing any interest or hobby I like, and expressing my opinions.
Twenty six years ago, in 1995, my parents and my father’s parents packed up their suitcases, kissed their family, friends, and neighbors goodbye, and hopped aboard a plane leaving from Kiev, Ukraine, for a new life in the United States. They wanted the chance to be judged for their character and their skills, rather than for their religion. We came as Jewish refugees, leaving family and friends behind. We made this sacrifice to flee both systemic and individual anti-Semitism and discrimination. We risked our entire livelihoods to search for a better future, a life where we do not face daily systemic and individual discrimination. And we found it! The United States continues to be a safe haven for minorities and oppressed people from all over the world. In this nation, I am judged for my intelligence, personality and character, rather than my nationality, religion, or race, like my parents and grandparents were in the Soviet Union, or like most of Europe until after World War II.
Here, I have the freedom to pursue any career, hobbies, and interests I want. I am free to start and run almost any business I desire. Contrast this to my grandparents and parents, whose career was controlled by the government, and whose career prospects were limited due to being Jewish. My mom, a math teacher who became a programmer, always says that if she grew up in the United States, she would have attended Harvard and would have become a statistician or a scientist, opportunities that were closed off to her in her childhood and education.
One of the most beautiful things about the United States is the First amendment. It protects me in continuing my education daily, while expressing my ideas and opinions, without persecution. I am allowed to read every book on the planet, without censorship, or restrictions to access. I do not need to get around firewalls on the Internet, to learn facts and truth, unlike in other countries, here I can state my opinions without fear of being fired, jailed, or killed. debate, and share my opinions, because, unlike the majority of the world, I have that right.
2. The diversity we are privileged to experience in this country should be celebrated.
I am lucky to be living in such a diverse society, where I can be exposed to virtually any type of culture. In too many countries, people do not get the opportunity to meet people different from them, and as a result just go by stereotypes that their government or parents or teachers say, making them xenophobic and ignorant. But not here. This is a country where immigrants, from all over the world, come to seek a better life, without forfeiting never seeing their parents and siblings, nor the opportunity for children to bond with their cousins and grandparents. This nation is famous for “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps through hard work, I am lucky to have friends from Germany to Ghana, from Ecuador to England, from Columbia to Cuba, from India to Israel to Iran. I have white, African, Asian, and Native American friends. I have Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and atheist friends. I can eat falafel from an Arabic eatery for breakfast, enjoy lunch in Chinatown, have a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant, and then go out to an Irish pub, or a Brazilian salsa dance lesson. The overwhelming majority of the world cannot do these things because they don’t live in the USA, or a country with a lot of diversity from different countries.
Why do you think that so many people want to live here? Why would the Mexicans and South Americans risk their lives trying to get in here in 120 degree trucks or Cubans risk drowning in tiny boats just to get here? Why are there 3-year waiting lists for green cards by the Indians and the Chinese? It is because despite the very real and unfortunate issues in this country, including systemic racism and individual discrimination, overall compared to the rest of the world, this is still the best, safest, and more stable place to live in. I am in eternal and irreparable debt for the many opportunities that it has given me the thankful for what this wonderful country has done for me.
3. We are Privileged to Experience First-World Problems
One of the brilliances of the Constitution is the balance of power, between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches. Despite appearances and party extremism, our government actually gets things done. Despite the attempts of certain leaders, we have the balances in place to prevent authoritarianism, and there is continuously funding to keep our countr running (despite prior shutdowns, which are quickly resolved), and is just functional enough to be stable for the economy. Our votes count, and we have the power to select our leadership, who need our support, so listen and respond to our needs. We can’t bribe judges, teachers, or cops; courts follow laws, our Constitutional amendments ensure fairness and justice. Our government simply WORKS!
We all benefit from this first-world privilege. I was privileged go to a private math school, hire an English tutor for the SATS, and attend chess, soccer, basketball, dance, journalism, and numerous clubs. My parents were able to save up enough money for me to attend Boston University, one of the best, but also most expensive, universities in the nation. Investment in my education has allowed me to get an awesome job, making almost 6 figures. As an American citizen, there are so many benefits I enjoy. A stable and plentiful job market, driven by Capitalistic applications keeps me employed, and selective of where my skills and interests coexistwith my personal needs. Healthy competition, driving customer service. Fast and stable Internet. I often leverage my ability to travel to over half of the world without even needing to apply for a visa. So much diverse entertainment, which I consume, lies at my fingertips, including concerts, musicals, plays, symphonies, festivals, parades, theme parks, natural parks, almost every sport invented by mankind. I can go skiing or hiking, apple picking or the beach, a walk at the park, or within the city, all within a couple hours drive.
4. Rather than making us worse than other countries, our issues mean that we are actually doing more about them
Listening to the news, you’d think that the USA is the most racist, discriminatory, supremacist country. On the contrary, us talking about legitimate social issues and protesting for reforms already makes us better. Unlike others who pretend issues do not exist, or worse, shut down dissent, we are actively working to fix our issues. You think racism is bad here? Try being African in China (scapegoated and kicked out over Covid from rented apartments, Christian in Saudi Arabia (can’t even have a Christmas Tree), Rohingya in Myanmar, Kurdish in Turkey or Iran, or like my family, Jewish is the countries of the Soviet Union. We see a sports fan throw a water bottle at an athelete and he is jailed and banned from the stadium for life; meanwhile in Italy and Spain, black players have bananas thrown at them, Jewish fans are mocked with anti-Semitic imagery and chants racist chants remain common.
Certain politicians and media personalities call out the media as “the enemy of the people”, when actually, unlike in many other countries, this only holds media accountable to report the news more objectively. You want some actual bias? In China North Korea, and Iran, saying the wrong thing gets you jailed. There are firewalls heavily censoring opinions, and even facts. In Belarus, journalists get pulled off planes and arrested. In Russia, they get poisoned or jailed. Most countries outside of Europe and Australia don’t even have the constitutional protections to protect Freedom of Speech and of the Press. People challenging our media to do better is great because it upholds journalistic integrity in affair manner.
Especially in recent years, we have seen partisanship growing wider, from both the right and the left. At least we’re not Israel, where it took FOUR elections to elect a functioning government. We’re not China or Saudi Arabia, where people don’t have vote for their representatives. Nor do we handpick puppet “candidates” or rig votes, like China and Iran do. Authoritarian leaders would not get away with achieving a coup, like Vladimir Putin in Russia, or Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey. Unlike in India, our government would Google and Twitter to delete certain social media posts.
The United States of America has our share of issues. We need to continue fighting for social justice, freedom of the media, objectivity and balance of the press, and governmental aptitude and bipartisanship. As we fight for these reforms, let us also appreciate, and understand that it could be so much worse, and that it is such privilege to live in this country, something that needs to be celebrated not just on independence Day, but daily!