When America was founded, there were some very specific things that the founders wanted. Power for the people, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech were just a few of those things. In the beginning of the Declaration of independence, it says that we have some “Unalienable rights” and that some of those are “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness.” They just wanted the freedom to choose. To choose where they worked, what they believed in, to choose how they lived their lives. America was created by these values.

What does it mean to be American now? That is something that everyone has to answer for themselves. In modern day America, being an American means nothing more than living in America. Every day we see something come up on the news. Hate crimes have become an almost daily thing. Americans separate and segregate themselves from people that are different. Instead of being the place where we were free to chose and be whatever we wanted it has become a place of hate and bigotry. It has become a place where people feel that they should have freedoms to do what they think is right but also where people who disagree with them or have different views should be suppressed.

Being American should mean something more, there should be more values and morals, but there isn’t . A hundred years ago, even a couple decades ago, being American meant something. Sadly, in today’s day and age Americans don’t value our freedoms, they only value their own wants. In a poll taken by associated press over ⅔ of Americans don’t trust other Americans. This distrust can lead to corruption and to more civil disagreements.

However, this isn’t what it has to mean forever. It isn’t what it meant during our country’s birth, so it isn’t what it should mean in the end. Thomas Jefferson once said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, then it expects what never was and never will be.”  If we as the common people are ignorant and uninformed, then our democracy stops being a democracy and starts to turn into more of a monarchy. As American citizens, it is our civil duty to stay educated and to stay involved. If we don’t then the people who are educated will begin to run all over us and we will lose our freedoms that we fought so hard to get.

But we must stay involved for the right reasons. Not for our own personal gain, but for the good of the whole country. We need to stick together and fight as one, for our future generations, and for the future of the world itself. If we don’t stay on the right path, and set a good example for others, then nobody will see how good a democracy can be, and we will fade away.

Right now our country is having a lot of problems with equality and how people are treating each other. We need to be able to get past these differences, especially since the differences that we are focusing on really don’t matter. Race, gender, sexuality, none of these things actually matter. What matters is the person themselves. If we can get past these differences then we can go back to being a nation where people are proud to live. We can go back to being the most powerful nation, not because of our military, but because of the people. The people will fight for their families, their neighbors, and for strangers. Once this happens, we can truly become the greatest nation in the world.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 What Does it Mean to Be American by Josiah is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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