Your Obedient Serpent (athelind) wrote,
Your Obedient Serpent

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The U.S. of Athelind

I was prowling through my files today, and noted this log of a conversation I had with my friend Fraxx.

The date on the file was 08 September 2000 -- a year and three days before the destruction of the World Trade Center.

I find that subsequent events have have only reinforced what I said then.

Fraxx: I gotta question... mind helping me with some quick homework?

Athelind: Not at all. Fire away.

F: In your opinion, what do you think it means to be American? What do you think of when you hear American?

A: Oooooh.

That's a toughie.

Give me a moment.

A: Being an American is about Freedom -- freedom of belief, freedom of speech, freedom of action.

That's almost everyone's knee-jerk reaction.

Being an American is ALSO, however, about believing in change, and in the idea of freedom for ALL, and the idea that, through hard work and inspiration and chutzpah, we can actively work to make the world a better place.

Being an American isn't about race or history or geographical accident. It's about bringing together people from all over the world, from every race and creed and color and subdivision of humanity, and somehow managing to create a vibrant, dynamic, active society that draws from the strengths of all of these elements. It's about Unity in Diversity.

A: This is what being an American means to ME. Freedom -- and Responsibility to preserve the freedoms of others -- Creative Change, Unity in Diversity.

The present state of our nation may or may not reflect that.

A: I should also note that I deeply resent the way that the conservatives have staked an exclusive claim on "patriotism" -- and how the liberals have let them.

A: Finally... being an American is the willingness to acknowledge that America has flaws, and the willingness to work to correct them. It's not a stubborn assumption that it must be right because WE do it.

It's accepting that we gave smallpox-laden blankets to the Indians, that we herded our own citizens into camps during WWII because of their heritage, that we haven't eliminated slavery -- we've just exported it overseas.

A: Being an American is seeing the good AND bad in what America IS, and striving to make it the best that it CAN be.

A: How was that?

I hope I didn't just wind up writing your essay for you

A: Did I mention anything about universiality? Being an American means not only certain rights and freedoms, but the ideal that htose rights and freedoms should apply to everyone?

F: No, that was great. You brought up some things I had not thought about before... mainly about acknowledgment about our flaws. This is actually for an interview part of this project... we have had about 20 people talk and no one brought that up.

A: Oh! good!

It's something that most people tend to notthinkabout.

A: It's something my multicultural school would crucify me for, but I'm one of those who thinks that "Americanizing the World" isn't such a bad idea -- just not the way WE'RE doing it NOW, with KFC and McDonald's and Coca-Cola (gods, some of those Coke ads just make me cringe).

A: To me, "Americanizing the World" is applying all of those rights and values and hard self-appriasals to humanity as a whole -- including and especially Unity in Diversity.

A: For all of the differences and conflicts in our country, we function remarkably well. There's a core of compromise and cooperation and a willingness to at least TRY to get along that keeps us together.

Look at Eastern Europe. They have a LOT more in common culturally than all the various factions of the American people -- but they're slaughtering each other for offenses centuries old.

F: Exactly, I couldn't agree more. A Happy Meal won't let me have a say in the government and let me have the simple Human Rights I deserve. Diversity is a stong part I think as well... erf. Thank you very much! I'd actaully love to talk more but have 1 minute to get all the way to school. :P

A: And part of the reason is that, somehow, all of us, Muslim and Christian and Irishman and Vietnamese, all consider ourselves... and each other... Americans.

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