Monday, July 4, 2016

Thoughts on America

I realize I have not blogged in ages, and I probably won't start blogging a ton after this either, but I had thoughts running through my head that needed an outlet. And my thoughts today are too long to fit into a 140-character tweet, which is what I usually do, so I have turned to the blog.

Today is the fourth of July. Independence Day for the United States of America. One of my favorite days of the year.
I love celebrating the 4th of July. My family always goes to the parade in the morning and it is a huge, fun, loud ordeal. And then we swim and play and eat to our hearts content. And then we watch fireworks. Fireworks are one of the best parts about the summertime. Overall, this is simply one of the best holidays with the best traditions.

But here's the thing: America is struggling. Maybe in my maturity I'm just more aware of the world than I ever have been in the past, but I feel like this nation, especially lately, is in constant contention with it's self and with the rest of the world. Specifically the contention within ourselves is the part that is overwhelming and disheartening to me. It seems to be eating us up from the inside. People are always arguing; not just having civil disagreements, which I think is a very healthy thing for all societies, but fights and name calling and an unwillingness to even listen to an opinion different than one's own. Sometimes these disagreements even turn to violence and that is unspeakably terrible.
It's really discouraging and heartbreaking to hear about such occurrences within this place that is supposed to be so happy and so free. I hadn't even realized it until today, but recently I've developed a somewhat negative attitude toward this country that I love so much. So often all we hear about is the bad, and I was beginning to believe it to be 100% true. While I do recognize that this country is not perfect and we have some major things we need to work on, today reminded me that this is still America. We are still so blessed to be in a country with all of the freedoms and rights that we have.

The majority of the youth that I work with are extremely underprivileged. They come from poverty situations, broken homes, and very rough neighborhoods. In my work, I focus so often on how unfairly society has treated them and how they were born into a situation where they never had a chance to succeed. I read articles and talk to my fellow professionals about how these youth are so underprivileged and lacking so much by way of materials, experiences, and finances. It's quite discouraging to realize that statistics say that it is incredibly unlikely for most of these kids to overcome the circumstances that they were born into. Most studies say that these youth will follow their parent's histories of violence, crime, lack of education, and poverty.

I could go on and on about the links between poverty, education, and delinquency, however today I realized that this is not the only perspective. This negative, static view of the future of these youths is not the only way of viewing their potential. Today I was reminded of hope and potential for the future of all of the youth of this nation.

We live in a country where it is completely possible for a kid to be born in the worst of circumstances and to eventually become anything they could ever dream of. Yes, this is difficult, and yes, this takes time, perhaps even a lifetime, but the bottom line is that it is possible. The youth of this country have the potential to change their lives and change the world. We live in a country where our destinies are not predetermined and we have control over who we become and how successful we will be. Yes, this country is still struggling and still has hatred, fear, and misunderstanding of so many minority and underprivileged groups. But people are advocating for change and understanding, because that's something we can do in this country! We are allowed to have a voice and we are allowed to try to change the things we don't like. We are not perfect and we have lots to work on, but isn't that exactly how America should be? This is a place of constant change and adaptation, and that is a good thing. And this is a place where our children have very bright, hopeful futures, and that is what America is all about. I'm not giving up on America and the future it holds for our youth, and I hope no one else is either.

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