So technically the 4th of July is tomorrow, but I’m doing the post today because I already have plans. And, you know, because the blog updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, not Thursdays.
I did the “How Much Do You Know about America?” quiz in Parade magazine just for kicks Sunday. I didn’t exactly do brilliantly. I mean, I got some of the answers right, but not nearly enough that it would have earned me an “A” had I been taking a class. A “B” probably would have been beyond my grasp at this point too. A “C,” if the teacher had been generous.
As much as I hate to admit it, it was probably it was a good solid “D+.”
I got a lot of bits of questions right, seeing as how most of them had several parts, but if you’re counting just the questions, I got a lot of them wrong.
It got me thinking – how much do we need to know about America?
Now, don’t freak. I’m not suggesting that we cut our American history classes completely. Obviously, we should know as much as we humanly can about our country. It’s true that most Americans can’t pass the citizenship test and that’s criminal and a complete and utter shame. But in lieu of the ideal, what should we know? What would be the best tidbits of knowledge to hang on to?
Everyone has a different opinion about this, obviously. But since this is my blog, I guess it’s my turn to talk.
We, the people of the United States of America, are free. People have sacrificed their lives for this freedom and we should do everything we can to keep ourselves free, even from the government itself, should it come to that. We owe a debt in blood to hold what they have held for us. We owe them respect for what they did, regardless about how we feel about them personally.
We, the people of the United States, have a right to freedom of speech. We should be able to speak our truths – even if others do not see them that way – without censure from the government, organizations, or each other. This means we can be cruel and rude and sometimes even wrong, because this is the price we pay for being able to speak out to be kind, bring hope, and speak for what is right.
We have a right to stand in a fair trial, regardless of our crimes. Any crime. Any person. It doesn’t matter how terrible it was. It doesn’t matter what kind of person stands there. Justice is blind and weighs evidence, but until the scales shift, we are innocent until proven guilty. This means everyone: you, me, James Holmes, Edward Snowden – EVERYONE is entitled to a fair trial, whether there is reasonable doubt or no question of guilt. All of us must stand as equals, in good or bad.
We have the right to defend ourselves from any attacks, be they physical, emotional, mental, financial, legal, or anything else. We do not have to stand idly with we are pummeled and pounded by others. Nobody can hurt us without our permission. We do not have to take it. We can do something, even when others say we can’t. And we have the right to stop people from hurting others any way we can.
We have the right to be independent. We have the right to think and feel the way we want. We have the right to express ourselves, we have the right to be angry. We have the right to stand for what we believe in, even if it goes against the norm. That being said, we also have the right to pay the price for our actions and pay it fairly. An eye for an eye, whether we like it or not, whether we regret it or not. For everything that is destroyed, a price must be paid.
Most importantly, we, the people, are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No one can take any of these three things away and get away with it, no matter who they are. “Live and let live” might be a terrible motto by some people’s standards, but it is important that it stands, for at any time someone can decide that someone else life is wrong is a violation of the principles this country was built on and it becomes only a matter of time until only one small, strict group subjects everyone else to their whims.
Okay, there you have it. You don’t have to like it. Heaven knows there are some parts of it I don’t like. It’s not pretty, it’s not neat, it’s not even particularly well written, but that is how I feel it should stand. Whatever else should go wrong, if we can remember that, if we can hang on that, we should do all right.