Is America actually “land of the free, home of the brave?”

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Aidan Anderson, Editor-in-Chief

I am not proud to be an American. 

I’ve blamed a lot of different things, political, social, and economical for the way I feel, but the bottom line remains the same. I, an American citizen born and raised in this country, feel absolutely no sense of pride in being just that. I feel no sense of honor or satisfaction with the way our country is demonstrating its ideals and policies, and the future isn’t looking bright.

I wish I could say there was a time when I was proud to be an American, but I can’t. The more I learn about the history of our country and the way it functions, the less I believe we are who we say we are.

There are more examples of things America has done wrong than I can count or care to admit, but there is one common denominator within all of them. It’s us. This country can no longer even function by the same basic principles we teach our children in school. The words, “treat others how you want to be treated” seem to no longer ring true in any sense that matters.  

Relationships with our strongest allies are being tested by the current administration, and our already strained relationships with others are dissolving. We have a tendency to hold others accountable for our problems, but in reality we’re tearing our country apart from the inside.

The United States’ position as a global superpower should be maintained through the hard work and dedication of the men and women of our nation. Instead, it’s carefully guarded behind an implied threat of occupation and insured by an “America first” international policy.

I miss the days in elementary school when I could recite the pledge of allegiance without questioning the statements it makes. Many people would be hard pressed to agree that this country still offers “liberty and justice for all.”

I was taught that the United States is the land of the free and the home of the brave, but I’m struggling to find any support for that statement. There are more than 87 free countries in the world today, many of which I believe to be maintaining their freedom, bravery, and compassion more effectively than America.

We live in a time when our president’s mental health and grasp on the English language are called into question while he simultaneously alters foreign policy via Twitter at 3 a.m., and that creates a pit of unease in my stomach that gets deeper every day.

Not only that, but I understand more each day the contempt many people have for millenials and our apathetic approach to social issues as well as our own lives. The criticism directed at us might seem harsh at times, but it’s not unwarranted.

Technology and social media are being introduced to children earlier and earlier, and are playing a huge role in their early development. And as the amount of virtual connection in our lives goes up, the amount of real human connection that we see between friends and family is dropping at a staggering rate.

I’m part of a growing number of young people who recognize the flaw in social media and its kin having wormed their way into every aspect our daily lives. We’ve got to move away from using the internet to feel involved, and take real action to make real change.

This is the era of “alternative facts” and fake news. The era of “thoughts and prayers” and internet fame. We’ve cultivated much too close a relationship with the bare minimum, and if ever there was a time for our actions to speak louder than our words, this is it.  

Don’t get me wrong, social media and the vast web of online connection at our disposal is not necessarily a bad thing. They can be used as a valuable platform to strike back and gain awareness, but they are not a solution to our problems.

Too many people are living in a backwards world, where their real lives only serve to support their virtual one. Flip that around, and suddenly the internet becomes a tool rather than a cancer.

There will come a time when our generation will pass on our values and ideals to our children. I for one want to make sure the country they call home is one they can respect and cherish. The only way that happens is if they have reason to respect and trust the people who pass them the reigns. Us.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

It’s high time we put our self-destructive tendencies on hold, and prove him wrong.