A Letter to my International Friends,
I really hate discussing politics. I’d much rather write flash fiction stories or wax poetic about nature or other things equally benign, but I feel my hand has been forced this week. It’s unavoidable really. And I do hope you’ll read my letter, because there is something I’d like you to know about me.
I am not an American who agrees with our latest political leader wannabe, Donald Trump and others, that we should close our borders to every Muslim person in the world. And while we’re on the topic, that goes for our neighbors in Mexico and the Syrian Refugees who seek haven here. I don’t believe that hiding behind our borders or giving in to our fears makes us safer. It’s important to me that you know I am not part of that America. The America I live in is welcoming to the stranger, a haven for the refugee and inclusive to all.
And I am not an American who believes that the poor are solely responsible for their plight. That they just need to stop being poor by pulling themselves up by their boot straps and start working. Some of the hardest working people I know can’t afford a roof over their head or food for their table because they do not earn a living wage. The corporate lobbiests and many politicians don’t believe in helping the poor. They believe that the poor are moochers and lazy. But I need you to know that I believe that this is immoral and wrong and simply not true, at least in the America that I live in.
I am not an American who believes that women need to be treated differently and in many cases, less than, in our society. This equates to less pay, limited access to health care and limited control over their bodies and lives. The America that I believe in supports equality for women in all ways…period.
I live in the America that seeks to divide, exclude and deny rights to people who are different. But I need you to know that even though I live in this America, I don’t believe in doing any of those things. I don’t feel the need to exercise my own personal rights to the exclusion of others. And I certainly don’t believe that it is right to use my rights to deny someone else theirs. I believe the civil war was settled 150 years ago. That it is a sad page of history from our past, but that it should remain in the past. The America I live in knows that when the rights of one person are threatened or denied, everyone’s rights are at risk.
I suspect that you may get the impression that America is a wild-west gun-toting dangerous place. With a whopping 270 million to 310 million guns owned in this country I can understand why you might believe this. But in truth that number represents only about 37% of our total population (according to the Pew Research Center). I am one of the 63% that don’t own a weapon. I support the 2nd amendment and a citizen’s right to own a gun. But I think we should be doing a much better job of monitoring and managing those who should not own a gun based on mental health or criminal record status…and I believe that there are certain kinds of weapons, meant only for killing people, not hunting for food, or personal protection, that shouldn’t be sold on the free market. If I’m being totally honest, I am pretty scared of that 37%.
The America I believe in would provide health care to all as a right, not a privilege for only those who can afford it. It would provide a quality education for our young people, including college. It would ensure that all children be given the best possible start in life, with continuing support along the way. I’ve been watching some of you other countries. And you’re getting it right. Maybe it’s because you’ve been around a bit longer. We’re rather new in this being a nation thing. And I admit that we have a lot to learn. I do hope that one day we too can get it right.
Thank you for reading my letter. I know that the other America, the loud one, is getting a lot of press these days, but I want you to know that there are more people like me. And while I feel the need to apologize for the ugliness and hate you see spewing from our shores…and I do apologize, please know that there are also those of us who really do want to get along…who believe we are part of the human race that includes all the peoples of the world…not just our little corner of it. And I hope you know that like many of you, we wish and hope for peace.
Me…kat…a voice from the America that is not blasted in the media
p.s. now I think I will get back to my poetry and prose. 🙂