As an adult, I have lived almost 8 years as a foreigner in a country that is not my home. In order to live here, legally, I've had to obtain a residence permit, give proof of my income, ethnicity, residence, religious affiliation, pass a criminal background check and be held accountable to the laws that govern my country. In order to obtain a cell phone contract, I had to have proof of legal residence. I've had to submit countless documents - withholding very little that gives government officials access into my financial and private life. When traveling within the European Union, I've had to show appropriate documentation and have witnessed others being arrested for not having theirs. While traveling outside of the EU, I've been subjected to countless questions as to why I am traveling, what I will be doing, when I plan to return, how long I've lived at my current address, and then witnessed the "better treatment" I've received when I display my American passport.
I have friends that live in other countries, some of which have laws much stricter than what I've described. A friend from Moscow has to obtain a travel visa that allows her mother to visit her for a set period of time. Another friend from a former Eastern European country tells me that everyone in her country has to have proper identification from the age of 15 years as a legal requirement. These are minor examples to how much of the world lives.
And yet ... in America ... much talk has erupted during the last presidential debate over immigration, personal freedoms, and racial profiling that frankly seems a bit naive. I would venture to say that most Americans have never lived anywhere else other than America. How little do we know of how the rest of the world lives! Are there extreme positions taken by politicians and media groups that portray unfair practices and question moral norms? Yes. However, most Americans have no idea of the freedoms they possess by simply being "American"!
We claim that one of our most beloved freedoms is freedom of speech. Yet, that freedom is being questioned and marginalized by central messages. If you fail to agree with the central message then you are labeled as a radical, liberal, or left/right wing extremist.
One of the great things about living in a democracy is the right granted to every citizen to express their voice during an election. The American people did that in November. Displeased with the results, some of America has now demanded that our basic principles of freedom of speech only be granted if they fit into the voice into which they agree! If you don't agree with me, then you have no right to express your views. We've lost our respect for not only each other but for the basic tenets of the American constitution.
I'm proud to be an American. I get teary eyed every time I reenter the US and am welcomed by a Immigration official. I get choked up when I get to celebrate July 4th on American soil. I get giddy when I hear an American accent on public transportation in my city. And I will support and respect the role of the American President of the United States. I am an American. On this Inaugural Day, I don't celebrate the right or wrong team winning. I celebrate my heritage and my country. That which I do not like I will prayerfully consider what I can do to be an agent of change.
And in an effort to not be hateful but just be frank, if you are an American and you don't or can't appreciate the freedoms granted to all Americans and respect the position of the one that has been elected, perhaps you should take a trip to another country to see how most of the world lives. You have the right to protest, grumble, and be dissatisfied. But for decency sake, have enough national pride to not disrespect others for expressing their views. We all have rights. Americans expressed who they wanted to protected those rights in November. That's how democracy works.