I never really took this seriously. Being born in the United States. I definitely took freedom for granted. It’s easy to do that when you don’t know any different.
I don’t know if I have a general distaste for our country. But it’s been a lot of years since I rooted for thew USA in international sports competitions. Always pulling for the smaller countries. Because it would mean more there. Because we have too much money and technology and medicine here. We have a decided advantage over most. It’s not fair.
It’s easy to complain about life here in the states. We are completely divided as a country right now. Which is everyone’s fault, including my own. We have drug problems. And gang problems. And mass shooting problems. And everyone seems to have psychological problems.
We aren’t a whole nation. Not at all. We are broken in so many ways.
So broken, that sometimes we forget how lucky we are. How incredibly privileged we are.
We have so much. All of us. We have so many luxuries that we forget they are even luxuries.
I talked to an immigrant from Haiti. Who was living with 12 others in a 2-bedroom apartment. I explained how unfathomable that is to me. He smiled softly, looking off in the distance, and talked about the magic of indoor plumbing.
I grew tired of talking to cab drivers who told me they were doctors in other countries. I was literally tired of hearing that story. Imagine how spoiled. How blind I am. These guys were important people. And they came here because their quality of life wasn’t good enough. Or they came here to allow their children the chance at real dreams. ‘They’re just trying to get bigger tips,’ I said in the most spoiled brat voice I could muster.
It’s embarrassing for me to even admit that. I was young. And really, really dumb.
I was born free. Free to steer my life into whatever I wanted to make of it. I never had the burden of that choice. You might now know the one. The ‘should I leave everything I have, all my family, friends, contacts, and all my belongings to get this freedom’ choice. That so many people make.
All to get the very freedom I was just born into.
And some people don’t ever even get that choice, ever. It’s completely unrealistic.
Talk about not fair.
I was born into such privilege. That I had no idea that the biggest privilege I have is freedom. That the ability to do what I want to in life. When I want to do it. That doesn’t exist everywhere.
It’s one thing to be born into communism. Which restricts so much. It’s another to be born into tyranny. Or worse. I don’t know what you call the Taliban.
I can’t imagine my daughter not being able to get an education. Or unable to have a career. Imagine she wasn’t able to have dreams. Or worse, she would have them. But they would have zero chance of ever being fulfilled.
I would jump on the wheels of an airplane that is taking off for her. With her strapped to my back.
It’s not just Afghanistan. There are other places too. This one is just in the news right now.
It’s easy from this seat. To proclaim how I’d stand up to these kinds of things if I lived there. It’s easy when my life. When the lives of my family aren’t being threatened. When the safety of my children isn’t at stake.
It’s a lot for me to process it all. How lucky I am. How lucky we all are living in free countries.
I never had the kind of national pride that makes me want to beat other countries at sports. And I still don’t. I have the kind of pride that makes me never want to leave here. That makes me want to make this a better place. That while broken, makes me love it here. That makes me want the rest of the world to have these same things we do. Maybe without some of the brokenness. But as long as they have it…
I know it’s not easy. And that some people won’t get there for a long, long time. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make every effort to give these freedoms to people everywhere.
I want to thank all the members of the military for their service abroad. Those who have given their lives. And many, their sane minds because of what they’ve seen and experienced. And the families of those who have served.
While many around the world are calling this a failure. Maybe take solace in the fact that what you did gave some people a glimpse of a better life. It gave people there hope. It gave some people who wouldn’t have it otherwise, the ability to weigh that choice…should I give up anything to get freedom.
I know if I lived there. I would want this taste of it. Even if for just a while.
For those of you who aren’t free. Born or otherwise. My most positive thoughts and prayers go out to you.