Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Anniversaries and America

I was doing a LOT of thinking and reflecting this weekend. So many changes come with time, you know?

My blog's been running for just over a year now. It's a little crazy to think about what I've done in life since then, and how much I've grown. I've met some fantastic people, gone to Europe, spent some time with my family, worked a lot, and just learned more about myself and about God along the way. He always gives affirmation of what I'm doing right and always shows me ways I can continue to improve myself. Every day I can see ways that He blesses my life.

Sunday marked the ten-year anniversary from 9.11.2001. I feel like I'm not really that old now (people keep guessing that I'm 2-4 years older than I actually am), but I was YOUNG back then. I got to thinking about where I was in life at the time, and then about all the ways I've grown and changed since then, and I also thought about the future. 2001 was a really transitive, emotional time in my life, and I didn't quite know how to handle it. I certainly could have only dreamed of becoming the person I am today, because at the time, I didn't have the self-confidence to believe that I could actually become anybody special. I'm so grateful for my parents sticking it out, being patient with and teaching me at that time and through the years. In ten years... I've become largely a different person. It's taken time, effort, and the patience of a god to get me here. I'm pretty happy with where I am in life right now. Thinking about the future scared me because it seems like the world situation is only going to get more uncertain and in ways, frightening; what helped me in getting rid of that anxious tension today was remembering that it is Satan who sows doubt and God who is always encouraging. Since Satan is the father of lies, I could push away the negative thoughts and instead make the choice to smile and be happy.

Along with the reflection of time, the anniversary of September 11th gave me cause to think about being American, and what that means. Now that I've been a couple other places, I'm struggling a little to identify what sets us apart and makes us unique, because most of what I saw among people in other countries were similarities. Many virtues like "independence" and "equality" are also shared by people of other nations, but they are just expressed a little differently.

So far, my best answer for "What makes Americans unique?" is our shared national heritage. The history of our young country is, to my knowledge, unmatched by any other: estranged from their mother country by a large distance, our early progenitors learned the importance of both individual self-sufficiency and group unity, and successfully asserted their own independence, which independence has lasted in the form of a democracy through the past two and a half centuries. During this time, Americans and their values have been put to the test in a number of situations, and that one-of-a-kind forging experience - that history - has produced a one-of-a-kind people: a people who hope, who believe in tomorrow, who believe that hard work will effect results, and who believe in helping each other.

That said, I'd really like to stress that we have far more similarities to other nationalities than we have differences; within the USA, we have an infinite spectrum of unique "growing up" experiences, with as much diversity as there are individuals, and that principle of diversity is going to hold true no matter what country you look at. Even siblings within the same family have different growing-up experiences from each other. Language barriers and genetic descendancy present such superficial differences between people that to cognitively and emotionally blind yourself to another person on either basis is quite silly. If people were more aware of the common humanity that we all share - everyone hurts, everyone laughs, everyone cries, everyone loves and wants to be loved - then I think that we would be more willing to cooperate and treat each other with more kindness and respect. I am an American, but even more than that, I am a woman, I am a daughter, I am a sister, I am a friend, I am an employee, I am a student, I am a role model, and there are many more things that I do and be, many of which are universally applicable and can be used to establish bonds with any other human being on earth. I'm me, and I'm trying to use myself to better benefit my God and my fellowmen. That's what I want to be and do with my life.

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