I Am An American

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I am an American, not a citizen of a red state rather than a blue state. I am an American, not a supporter of Joe Biden rather than Donald Trump. I have always believed that the President of the United States cared about me and my needs not because of where I live, what religion I choose to follow, my sexual orientation, my race, my profession, my income, my age, or my political beliefs, but simply because I am an American. When a man or woman who is President takes the pledge to serve, protect and defend I believe that that it includes me and every other American in this land. I am an American who loves my country, my state and my city even when I point to the difficulties that must be addressed. 

I am an American who has voted in every election from the time that I first became eligible to do so. Some of those that I chose have been elected and others have not. It is the American way. I have witnessed our Presidents doing wonderful things and also making mistakes. They have rarely been perfect but they have all given a sense that they understood the gravity of their responsibilities and they have tried in most cases to serve all of the people as much as possible. It has only been President Donald J. Trump whose number one motivation for any decision that he makes is seemingly to garner praise and affection from the people who voted for him, leaving those who disagree with him to fend for themselves. 

For months now I have thought of an old public service announcement that featured a Native American paddling down a river in his canoe only to find garbage and pollution defiling the pristine environment. At the end of the spot he stands surveying the damage with a single tear running down his cheek. That is how I now feel as we move steadily toward election day in the middle of so much decay and division in our country. I am engulfed in a deep sadness for my country because I am an American. 

This is a momentous time in the United States. Our President lied to us about the true dangers of Covid-19 and failed to provide leadership for a cohesive national plan that would have saved lives. He sarcastically made fun of those of us who comprehended the seriousness of the situation and pushed aside the suggestions of experts, opting instead to feature only those who catered to his way of thinking. He divided us into red states and blue states, republicans and democrats insisting that the only patriots of our country are the ones who bow to him. He seemed to forget that we are all Americans and in fact allowed his supporters to continually suggest that those who take issue with him hate this country and might be better served if they left. He chose to ignore the reality that we are all Americans. 

In the middle of our battle with Covid-19 a movement long in coming bubbled to the surface when our nation witnessed the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. Just as with Covid-19 President Trump might have admitted that we have systemic problems that require our attention. He might have been a true leader by bringing the different sides together to discuss changes beneficial to all, but instead he chose to demonize the Black Lives Matter movement and incite anger to lionize himself. He intimated that anyone who supports the Black Lives Movement is against law and order, against America. He used what should have engendered a serious national discussion to divide us even more. He was unwilling to see us all as Americans. 

As if our trials in 2020 have not been enough to bear, our nation has been ravaged by wildfires and hurricanes that are undeniably the result of our failure to curb the mistreatment of our planet. Scientists are clear that our human indifference is our very atmosphere, making the likelihood of natural disasters more and more certain. This is a moment in which President Trump might have conceded that it is past time to take measures to curb our destructive behaviors but instead he chose to insist that he does not believe the scientists. He played to his base rather than considering that we are all Americans. 

I now have a tear running down my cheek because contrary to what Donald J. Trump may believe I am an American. I care about and respect all of humanity, all Americans. I believe in our freedoms but also understand that with the great gift of liberty comes great responsibility. I do not walk alone. I walk beside millions of fellow Americans and it is my duty as a citizen to first and foremost understand that my state is supposed to be united with forty nine others. When one of us hurts, all of us hurt. My mask is a mark of honor for life. My willingness to hear the cries of the oppressed is a mark of honor for freedom. My understanding that I must sacrifice in how I live to save my planet is a mark of honor for all that God has given us. I am an American who understands the meaning of the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

I am an American along with almost three hundred thirty million others. Our President is only one person among many and I urge him to consider the duty of his pledge to defend, preserve and protect us all. I remind him that we are one nation under God with liberty and justice for all, not just those who wave his flags and flatter him with their adulation. His job is not about him. It is about all of us. It is about all Americans.