Left, Right, Free

Left, Right, Free

In 2020, we are the freest we have ever been in recorded human history, I say recorded because I’m sure there were some good times before man figured out how to perform the ancient version of pulling out one’s phone to capture their experiences. Freedom in America today, or as it is perceived by too many can be surmised very  simply: We have created our own problems. All of them. We live in the greatest era, of any generation, in any society, ever. This isn’t up for debate. You right now are holding in your hand with your “smart” phone, a clever euphemism, the most powerful piece of technology for individuals arguably ever created. You can google that right now to try and disprove it. You can’t. Literally everything you could ever want to know is a loaded page away if you are willing to spend the time. Ptolemy II, not the crazy VIII variety who purged all of the intellectuals from Alexandria, (Crazy eights. Ha.) would marvel at the iPhone. Maybe even a Samsung Galaxy. But doubtful. I digress. Most of us aren’t willing to spend the time to educate ourselves on the topic of the day, myself included. I won’t pretend that I don’t get caught up in the rush to react rather than the desire to be right and informed at times. And therein lies the problem.

We have removed effort. We have removed responsibility. We have removed meaning. If you were born in the United States of America, you have won the geographic lottery. But you are squandering it by choosing victimhood like a Powerball winner who chooses the lump sum and buys houses for his family and friends before the check clears.

If you are alive today in America, you are not a victim. You can choose to be one though. You can take every perceived slight and turn that into a march on whatever institution you feel has wronged you. You may even carve out a podium position in the victimhood olympics and secure a verified Twitter account. Some legacy. It would be much harder and productive though to leverage the fact that you go to sleep with too much water, too much food, digitally controlled air conditioning or heat, refrigeration, electricity, wifi, direct deposit, and access to any and everyone in the world via social media into a positive outcome. Instead, many Americans choose to invent their plight. They’ve latched on to the suffering of generations past and attempt to don their ancestors suffering and cosplay their way to sympathy. There is a fun fact that is going to be extremely hard for many to swallow based on the current political climate and anarchical group flavor of the month; Every race, every religion, every gender, has been enslaved at one point on this planet. Since the dawn of organized, hierarchical societies that figured out power leads to control, we have treated other human beings like possessions. This is no time to filibuster the past. This is a time to actually revel in the present and expound on the absolutely mind blowing potential we have for EVERYONE in America. Spare me your hashtags and slogans you’ve placed in your bios.

Race is a big issue right now in America. Some would say it always has been. Maybe that’s true. All I can relay are my experiences since growing up in the working class suburbs of Kissimmee and Orlando, FL. What I do know is that when you spend time around people that are different than you, you change. Usually for the better. It exposes you to a different lens of how the world can be viewed, but also to their culture, music, food, language, and how they love within their families and in relationships. But more importantly, if you pay close enough attention, you can see exactly how individuals express their pride in country, if it’s there, and as I have already said in previous paragraphs, it should be if you are viewing this with an IP address that originates in America. This is what is meant in my opinion of diversity is our strength. Not the forced, arbitrary version that plays out for likes and shares we too often see. I am talking about the genuine population of OUR country. I have been fortunate to experience Florida, New York, Tennessee, Southern California, and Northern California in my years and each one of these places is vastly different from the other. But what is present is the unique expression of patriotism. And how each location goes about it differs from the next. But it is fundamentally sound in its identity. This is what we must leverage. If you have never been so fortunate as to see the rest of the world outside of the United States borders, I am going to let you in on a little secret. Slavery still exists. The modern version plays out in the Middle East daily as workers are imported from the Philippines, India, Pakistan, and many other nations. They surrender their passports upon arrival and work sometimes for two years before they are ever returned their documents and able to see their family members again. If they survive that long. Feel free to dive down the rabbit hole of construction in the United Arab Emirates when you’re done liking every Instagram model’s pics from the skyline of Dubai.

We must unify. After 9/11, we came together like no time in America since World War 2. If you weren’t alive or were too young to remember, I promise you it was beautiful. It was a 24/7 occurrence to see and hear people honking or waving American flags. People on the side of the road selling (of course, we are capitalists after all) t-shirts with Osama Bin Laden’s face and a target on them, pictures of the Twin Towers, and every pro-American trinket you can imagine. This was 19 years ago. The schism must be filled with some blatant love and patriotic fervor. I don’t want another war, but I want the reaction we put forth when there is one. For too long we have allowed politicians on both sides to fan the flames of division. And for what? So you can purge another life long friendship on Facebook because you think differently on an issue that largely doesn’t even affect you? Stop. Stop right now and look outside your window or door. Do you know your neighbors? Do you exchange pleasantries with them each day or actually hang out with them some times? That is the real America. That is what never makes the entertainment news cycle our media purposely ignores. We are so much more than the destruction we see playing out currently each night. We are the strongest collection of intellectual, economic, and scientific minds this world has ever seen. But somewhere along the way recently we have forgotten that. It’s not too late to remember. It’s not too late to throw down the victim shields and unify with your fellow man and woman. We are not perfect in any way, shape, or form. That is by design. We are flawed by nature, but we have the power to lift each and every one up in the country who chooses to do so. That is what we must do. We must remember that when we go to bed tonight, it is in the freest country to ever exist and when we wake up in the morning, we can do whatever it is we want to do in order to make our lives better. Never forget that. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. And never let anyone make you feel bad for being a citizen in the greatest country known to man; the United States of America. Let’s stay free.

Eric Bandazewski