As of this writing, Fourth of July is almost upon us. To think that in nine years, the United States of America will be celebrating her 250th birthday!
In 1976, just four years after I arrived in the U.S.A., my parents came from Japan for a short visit with us (David, our then very small children, and me) in Wisconsin – to experience the United States Bicentennial. They also travelled across the U.S.A. for about two weeks before returning home. As you can imagine, the Bicentennial celebration lasted for months, culminating in the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on Fourth of July. As a relatively new immigrant, I was full of hope for the future, mixed with perhaps a healthy dose of insecurity, in the land of my childhood dreams.
My parents were delighted to be able to meet David’s parents. As young adults during the 1940s, both sets of our parents had been impacted in one form or another by World War II. It was remarkable that former “enemies” had nothing but utter respect for one another. Since then, all four of them have passed on.
I have always been a firm believer that, whether we recognize it or not, every one of us lives in the context of history. Like most, if not all, immigrants to the United States of America, I have always appreciated, and always will till my dying breath, every minute of my existence here.
Most countries around the world are much older than the U.S.A. In fact, some are thousands of years old. Although young, in my humble opinion, the U.S. represents the pinnacle of human experiences in terms of what to do and what not to do – to live in peace with people of all backgrounds; to respect and honor everyone’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, which is a phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. For this simple yet most profound statement, we have none other than our own Founding Fathers to thank – all of whom were united in their determination to escape from the tyranny of the old country. They declared independence from England which, until July 4, 1776, had been establishing America as one of its colonies.
For this historic event for mankind, contrary to how some others seem to view today’s American society, I reject the notion that the U.S.A. is an extension of the old European countries. Consequently, I never understood former President Barack Obama for what he did while in office. Using his position as the President of the United States, he went around the world apologizing on behalf of the U.S.A. for the “sins” of the past – as if America were to blame for them!? He equated the U.S.A. with the old Europe which colonized other countries. Through his misguided apologies, he chose to ignore the very foundation of this country, which was that the original 13 colonies chose to break away from the tyranny of the old world for the benefit of humanity. For the record, America NEVER colonized other countries. Even in victory after WWII, America helped re-build the vanquished countries. I know because I’m from one of those countries.
Of course, one could argue that racism did exist in this country. And it still does. I know because I have experienced it myself. In human life, nothing is ever perfect. But the fact of the matter is that, in this country, the laws exist to minimize the effects of racism. Given such laws, what more could we want? It’s an individual choice to either dwell on the wrongs of the past (with which most of us were not even personally involved) or to help ensure that the philosophy of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness remains intact for every human being who is fortunate enough to live and/or be born in this country.
America is a melting pot. Why do we have immigration issues in this country? Because so many people want to be here! This is a country where people from all over the world are drawn to its Founding philosophies about human existence. Being able to live a life in the United States is not a right but a privilege. If you don’t like it, you have the freedom to go wherever else you choose or back to where you came from. (By the way, this was an argument I had in my head, years ago, as I chose to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.)
The way this country has changed so drastically since when I first arrived here is nothing short of alarming. Given the trajectory, I am truly concerned as to where this country may be headed. As you probably noticed, today, anyone with politically-opposing views are not welcomed on most university campuses. Businesses are being forced to close because they do not fit some people’s idea of political correctness. Historical statues and monuments, some of which have been there for over a century, are being removed or even destroyed because some people do not want to be reminded of what they represent. Instead of appreciating how much progress has been made in terms of humanity since this country’s birth in 1776, some misguided activists want to erase history because the reminders are “offensive” or “painful.” The question is, “Where do you draw the line?” “Or how?”
Think about it. Those activists who demand extreme political correctness are no different than Nazis in Germany, Maoists in Communist China, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East, or Communist North Korea – who are all about control of the masses through tyranny. They think nothing of bringing misery to and/or killing innocent people or destroying historical artifacts. Ultimately, they are all about not only discriminating against but annihilating those who are not one of “them,” racially, religiously, philosophically, politically, or whatever else that is convenient for them to use to justify violence against humanity. This is not a theory, by the way, but a reminder of the facts of human history; and, in the case of Muslim extremists, a current reality.
If you have not already, please start thinking for yourself and figuring out what is happening in schools, on campuses, in the rest of the country; who are behind promoting such intolerance and; most importantly, why.
Obviously, I am not in a position to force you to heed my forewarning. Instead, let me quote Princess Leia (Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope) who said, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” As an immigrant from one of the oldest countries in the world, I can say this with an absolute conviction: “America is our only hope for humanity.” Please do not EVER take America – and the freedom you enjoy – for granted. Our Founding Fathers fought for and gave us an incredible gift – not just for the privileged few but – for all of humanity. They were not perfect human beings by any means but who, among us mortals, ever are?
In the old world, with a long history of social hierarchy, a female like myself would NEVER have been given the kind of life I have been privileged to live in the U.S.A. – with freedom. Every day of my life, and especially on Independence Day, I have the Founding Fathers to thank for having initiated a clean break with the old world about human existence – that we are all created equal.
I am anxious to see what the U.S.A. will look like on her 250th birthday in 2026. If the silent majority are willing to stand up for the Founding philosophies, which I believe most of us are, I remain cautiously optimistic. If not for the U.S.A., where else could people go to choose life, liberty and pursuit of happiness?
In the meantime, Happy birthday, America! You’re the best!