Value of citizenship lies in its use

God I love being American, but not simply because I am American. I do not believe the U.S. is going to be OK while I sit on the sidelines. I do not believe you have the right to call yourself an American unless you exercise your rights, by voting and petitioning.

As Americans we all have a Ferrari. America is our Ferrari. Now some guys get a Ferrari, and they show it off. They tell everyone how great their Ferrari is, but they never drive it. Then when they do decide to open it up, it’s not what it should be. A Ferrari goes to crap unless you drive it like it was meant to be driven. That is this country.

I love my country for what it can do, not what it looks like. Not the image we project. We project an image that others interpret differently than we would like. I love this country for what it can do, not what it does.

This country is high octane. If we put our minds to it we could solve poverty, cure cancer and create world peace. The reason is because this country did something that has never happened in the history of the world. It declared, "We the people."

Political power has always been a balance of competing interests. Historically, these interests have been government and religion. For the first time we have man vs. the state.

Anything that this country will do will only be a result of the demand of the people. However, demand is currently low. Many people have a "let them do as they do" attitude. They don’t vote because it is the lesser of two evils. This is un-American to the fullest. It is allowing the government to make all the decisions for you. Right now, we are in a time when the power of the people is low compared to the power of the government.

We’ve seen this problem before, during the Roaring ’20s. When people get all they expect, they do not exercise their power. Their laziness allows government, both conservative and liberal, to do exactly as it likes, and always leads to problems. Historically, we the people, check this.

When government gets out of control we begin to make demands that are not good for government. In the ’60s and ’70s we demanded that blacks and women be treated equally. We demanded it with protests and petitions, and exercised free speech to achieve it.

Our founding fathers knew philosophy and history, and knew these things would happen. They were right. Now, since we demanded equal rights, we were demanding something not in their interest. At the time, the Democrats in the South were unapologetic racists and misogynists. By allowing women and blacks equal rights they lost power. Many politicians still haven’t answered for their stances in the ’60s and ’70s, but we took back power then.

Right now we are in the same upswing of people power. We can fix the ills of the world, but the apathy and selfishness of our generation is astounding. As long as we get a BMW at 16 years old, or as long as we have a Playstation or Myspace or any of that crap, we forget the purpose of this country. Just because politicians say we are a force of good does not mean we are. And I cannot say we are a force of good because it seems to be the whole world has grievances with us.

If we cured cancer here, and then did it for others, that would look good. If we focused some money on liberal arts instead of war we might be able solve poverty by designing a system of distribution that was good for all. That would look good.

I hate this country because we won’t. We are so selfish that all we worry about is No. 1. Rich people always talk about their life and future like it is all their own personal property. It is not. You are what you are because of your parents, friends, etc. You have what you wear because of little Indonesian kids and Mexicans, etc. You have an education because teachers sacrifice any hope of wealth to teach you. You earn what you earn because men sweat and bleed in mines, construction sites, etc. Everything you are is a direct result of other’s contributions, everything you know comes from the work of a philosopher or thinker; everything you can be thankful for because of capitalism is from the efforts and methods of others.

The U.S. is selfish and rude. I hate that. Americans can solve a lot because we have developed the structures necessary for solving problems. But to love your country simply because you were born here, and to ask nothing of it, is to keep your Ferrari in the garage.

Khan, a political science and history junior, can be reached via [email protected]

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