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As a citizen who was born and raised in the United States, one might think an opinion coming from me is more than likely biased. On the contrary, there is no one better to discuss American culture and perception with than a true American. While I may be a patriot, I can also recognize when things in my own country are, to say the least, in need of change. Looking back at America’s history and all that we’ve done to bring ourselves to this very point, it is my belief that we were once the greatest.
Our patriotism is one thing I would never wish to change about our country; however, it looks to me like we’ve lost sight of what truly matters: pursuing our ambitions with the right intentions. It is unclear to me whether these negatively impactful changes are a result of cultural influences from other countries, or if they are strictly a result of our own mistakes.
Either way, we are more than capable of designing and constructing a country we can be proud of. With regards to America’s culture, the changes we’ve experienced have been profound since the birth of our nation. Decades ago, it was common to think that homosexuality was a defect in need of correction. It’s safe to say almost no one condoned it and also everyone actively persecuted them for it. Today’s outlook on the subject couldn’t be any more distant, with advocator’s of homosexuality and laws passed in support of gay marriage, we’ve turned the tide in reversing the damage we unknowingly caused years ago.
With that in mind, we also made strides in gender equality as well.
A century ago, women didn’t have the legal right to vote, claim equal pay for doing the same work as men, and couldn’t prosecute a spouse for rape. With the help of women like Sara Jane Lippincott (advocate of social reform and women’s rights, first woman reporter on New York Times) and Ruth Ginsburg (lawyer for several women’s rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court), we’ve made it possible for women to actively participate in modern society to the same extent as men. While American culture has changed, I can confidently say it’s changed for the better. On another note, it seems like people of powerful positions in today’s society are more commonly taking advantage of their stance and using it to selfishly benefit themselves.
Take Maxine Waters, for example, a politician who’s serving as the U.S. Representative for California’s 43rd congressional district is facing ethics violation charges and was also named one of the most corrupt members of congress. Thanks to our founding fathers, America was originally built on a principled foundation of honor and ethics, which is what set us on such a prosperous path for so long. George Washington, our first president of the United States, is most notable for these acts when he was willing to fight with his men at Valley Forge risking his life in defense of his country. To conclude the Revolutionary War, the American people proposed that Washington be their king, he replied saying he wouldn’t lead as king, but instead as president. It is this trait exactly that, if brought back, would restore our nation’s pride in the success we achieve in the future. Our efforts are not worth celebrating if they’re obtained through misguided intentions.
Considering what we’ve accomplished as a nation so far, I believe the confidence and faith Americans had–and continue to have–in our country deserves a lot of the credit. In his speech, Patrick Henry urged the idea of war with Britain and spent the entire length of the speech trying to convince the president of his appeal using ethos, logos, and pathos arguments (Henry 1775). His speech, therefore, implies that he had so much faith in the strength and power of America that he would go as far as to convince the president himself to test it. In the Newsroom video, the speaker stated that we “stood up for what was right” and “sacrificed and cared about our neighbors” (Sorkin 2015). This is a clear example of the morality America was once infamous for. Everything we have today was only made possible because of the brave men and women who were willing to both defend and fight for their country out of sheer faith. Their courage is what kept patriotism flowing through the veins of our nation for centuries, giving the people in today’s society both a glimpse of what we were and what we should again aspire to be. While we may have suffered the loss of our ethical beliefs, one commonality among us is the patriotism we share for our country.
I understand in the eyes of some, patriotism in America is essentially nonexistent. I’ll admit there have been devastating accounts in U.S. history of people who have been caught committing treason and espionage. An example of this would be Robert Hanssen, a man who spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services against the United States for 22 years, with many describing it as “the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history” (Hurst 2005). No matter where you are or what country you’re in, there will always be people who misrepresent the whole. The mistakes of individuals who willingly choose to neglect their country by involving themselves in acts of treason don’t represent nor compare to those who advertise their loyalty out of respect to those they trust, whether it be their country, government, or their neighbors.
With respect to those who may not agree, America is a place of opportunity, strength, perseverance, and the occasional political scandal. While we may no longer be as notorious for having the purest of hearts, we still have people willing to strive for better. In a nation upheld by flaws, we still believe there are things worth fighting for. Our family, friends, and the happiness of the other people in our lives is still a priority we all share. Yes, changes need to be made, but we as a nation still have aspects worth upholding. We’ve evolved into a symbol of individual freedom people of other nations risk their lives trying to get to. All we need is a little gratitude for what we’ve done and how far we’ve come.
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