Because This is #America

Last night I stayed up late, chatting with my brother. We didn’t have a curfew, and we weren’t in danger being outside after dark. We talked about anything and everything, with no restrictions limiting our sharing, laughter, or discussion.

Because this is America.

This morning I slept later because of being up late last night, and no one punished me for it.

Because this is America.

When I got up, and my brother’s family was still sleeping, mom and I left for a morning drive. We didn’t need permission, and could drive anywhere we wanted.  We have our own driver’s licenses, without being restricted because of our gender.  There were no checkpoints, no police barriers, no war zones.

Because this is America.

While we drove, my mother and I talked about religion.  We both believe in God and even Jesus and definitely the Holy Spirit, but we worship in different ways.  But we do not worship in fear or in secret.  I can worship how I want, whether it is my 4 year old declaring it to be family prayer time in the middle of the pool, or whether it is me enjoying an easy two hour drive to the Temple, or whether it is my mom visiting my church on a Sunday when I sing a song my friend had the freedom to write.  My nieces and I can sing “Follow the Prophet” on the playground, and I can read the Ensign at the gym.

Because this is America.

On our drive this morning, my mother and I also talked about what is going on in the world.  We are able to discuss politics without being imprisoned, and we are able to participate in the process by voting in elections –  even though we are women – without having guns pointed at us, without threats against our families, and without corrupted governments ignoring our votes.  We can discuss our opinions while sitting in a public restaurant, and we can access news all over the world through a variety of unrestricted technological venues.

Because this is America.

My mother and I drove where we wanted, and chose the store we wanted.  We weren’t assigned a certain place, and weren’t rationed in our shopping.  We picked what we wanted to eat, and enjoyed it sitting comfortably in the cool air out of the hot sun.  We spent money we had earned, and had change leftover. We had variety to choose from, and selected by our own preferences.  While we ate, no car bombs exploded in the street, and no gunfire filled the air.

Because this is America.

While we were gone, my friend texted me.  She is a friend I picked out because I wanted to and I enjoy her company.  She is caring for my dogs and garden while we are away. She has five children, three girls and two boys.  She is allowed to have the children she wants, and keep them alive and raise them, no matter how many or their gender.  I have the freedom to raise my garden, choosing for myself what crops I grow and how much of them I use for myself or share with friends.  If I sell any, I get to set my own prices with the local fair market.

Because this is America.

When we finished, we drove past different gas stations and picked one with a fair price. We didn’t wait in line, weren’t in danger while filling up, and didn’t have to choose between breakfast and gas for the car.

Because this is America.

Next, we went to the pharmacy to pick up my medicine.  I got my medicine with the insurance plan I chose to participate in, and with money from a job I chose to work.  We picked the pharmacy we wanted to pick, out of lots of choices and options.  The medicine I got is what it says it is, and it is safe for me to actually use.  It matches what the doctor prescribed, and he is the doctor I chose from the hospital I picked.

Because this is America.

We drove back to our condo, for the vacation we designed, along the route we chose to take.  We enjoyed the scenery without danger, and celebrated park views that our voted-for taxes support.  We passed churches we disagree with, businesses we don’t support, and political campaign signs we don’t like… all while respecting their freedom to exist as much as our own.

Because this is America.

My nieces and I went to the pool without being attacked. We laid in the sun without being afraid, and played in the water without being in danger.  We laughed on the playground without being guarded, and debated our opinions without being jailed.

Because this is America.

In the afternoon, we all did what we wanted when we wanted.  We scattered our own ways, with my niece free to watch a movie she wanted to see, my mom and best friend watching different television shows, me reading a book I had the freedom to purchase, my brother reading the news from the sources he chose, and all of us texting and tweeting and Facebooking whatever we wanted to say.

Because this is America.

Then, in the evening, we gathered again, to make our plans for celebrating tonight… since we are free to celebrate in the ways we want.  We could make plans for this week, as we are free to operate as a family in the ways that best suit us as individuals and as a family.  We all have jobs we chose, and mom got to retire when she wanted.  We can work and play and worship and celebrate and rest in the ways we choose, and we have the freedom to travel and communicate in the ways best for us.

Because this is America.

Tonight, before we go to bed, we will gather as a family again, and say our evening prayers.  We will do so in safety, and without fear.  We will pray the way our family believes it best to be done, using the words we feel prompted to use.  We will go to bed in safety, without worry of tomorrow or fear of the night.

Because this is America.

And in America, we are spoiled like a Father spoils his children.  We are blessed with provision and protection, and an abundance more than we could ask or imagine.

But good Fathers balance this “spoiling” with guidance and instruction, and even discipline when the guidance is not followed.

Grateful for this freedom to believe what I want and to say what I want, I say now what I believe about America.

I believe that America is a chosen and sacred land, blessed by God.

I believe these blessings are “inasmuch” (to the degree) that the people who live here act and behave like a chosen and sacred people.

I believe the freedoms and abundance we enjoy are meant to be both enjoyed and shared.

I believe it is a shame to squander these privileges or to be ungrateful for the miracles they are.

I believe not living up to these privileges will forfeit them.

I believe that part of the gift of such freedom is the responsibility to use those freedoms well.

I believe the American dream is still alive, when we do the same hard work our ancestors did, in the same sacrificing kind of way.

I believe there are reasons we wanted government without monarchy, and lives without tyranny.

I believe that fireworks are fun, watermelon is yummy, and family gatherings are the best.

But I also believe that our native ancestors taught us how to respect this land, our colonizing ancestors taught us how to defend our rights to live our own lives, and our pioneer ancestors taught us how to live up to those responsibilities.

I believe my civil war ancestors proved no one has the right to own or sell another person, and that this applies to everything from slavery to rape to financial bondage to emotional manipulation to school bullies.

I believe that World War I taught us that dictators are not okay, taught us how to work together, reminded us how to sacrifice, and demonstrated how important it is for us all to learn to play well with others.

I believe World War II taught us that we are all one people.  No one should be murdered because of the way they worship God.  No one should be tortured because they can’t hear, have a limp, or were born with a different eye color than you.

The wars since have taught us that no matter our  political stance, we should love and honor our soldiers because they are soldiers, period.  They have fought for our rights and freedoms and the rights and freedoms of others.  They have given their lives to maintain my freedom to worship the way I want and say out loud the things I believe, as well as my ability to participate in my own government and make choices for my own welfare. They do this while protecting me from those who use God as a weapon and those think that money or military can buy me, bribe me, or own me.

Civil rights movements provided ways for life to be accessible to us all.  I can request sign language interpreters for doctor appointments, get a job regardless of how well I hear, and watch captions on television.

There are some things in America that I think we still need to change.  But I have the freedom to say so, as well as the responsibility in helping make those changes.  There may still be room for improvement, bit that improvement starts with me.  If I want something to change, I can do something about it.

Because this is America.

And tonight in America, as fireworks shoot through the sky like “bombs bursting in air”, I will cry with gratitude for these things.

And when I pray tonight, because I have the freedom to do so, I will thank God for the service of those who fought for this country… including my ancestors, my grandfather, my uncles, and my father… as well as my cousin and his wife who just left Afghanistan.

And I will say, “Thank you.”

Because this is America.

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Because This is #America — 1 Comment

  1. I couldn’t have said it better myself…..ever….no chance…. and that is why you are the master blogger and I am not….. and once again, this shows to the world the gifts that He blesses His children with, when they live according to His word. Thank you.