Happy Independence Day

July 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve always been taught to be patriotic. I always felt so much pride taking a portrait of Papa in uniform to the Memorial Day assembly in elementary school.  

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I remember there always being an American flag waving over our gate.  I’ve always looked forward to 4th of July celebrations, but if I’m being entirely honest, the excitement was mostly for the fireworks and food. 

 
This year on the 4th of July, I was flying from New Delhi, India to Katmandu, Nepal.  Ironically, I spend Independence Day in two countries – neither of which was my own, but my thoughts have been more focused on my appreciation for the U.S. of A. than ever before.  July 4th marks almost the exact halfway point of my time in India.  Though I am loving my time here and I hope to return someday, the experience has instilled in me a deep love for my home country.  Not for the clean streets, or the reliable electricity.  I truly don’t care about the convenience of supermarkets or the clarity of traffic markers.  It’s the freedom guaranteed to all Americans that makes me so proud, and so so grateful, to call the U.S. “home.” 
 
So many things I’ve grown up with, things that seem so basic to me, are never attainable by people in India and other developing areas around the world. And though I’m envious of all my family and friends joining together to BBQ and light things on fire, my thoughts of today’s holiday center on liberties of a much larger significance. 
 
To name just a few: 
 
Attending school is not even an option for many children here.  Yet, for Americans, not attending is never allowed.  How lucky I was to learn to read, to have been taught math and science, to go to college
 
Additionally, I get to choose the person I marry.  I get to choose who I don’t want to marry.  For more than one of my friends here, their marriages were arranged, or forced.  One of my best friends is in hiding from her whole family to escape a marriage she doesn’t want.  In the U.S. our liberty would never stand for this.  I can walk down the streets holding whoever’s hand I want.  I can insist on marriage; I can refuse it.  I always saw marriage and love as a right.  But I’ve realized it’s a privilege – the most valuable privilege, at least in comparison.  
 
I have never seen a child begging on an American street, I have never heard of a policeman refusing to answer the call of a woman.  All kids are taught to read.  There are no slums – no neighborhoods made from only tarps and tree branches. There is no caste system.  We would never stand for laws that require women to cover their face, or men to grow their beard a certain length.
 
So as fun as it is to claim our love for ‘Merica” and yell “U.S.A! U.S.A!,” Independence Day is about more than potato chips and sparklers.  It’s more than loving our soldiers and hating terrorists.  We are citizens to the best nation, the most fortunate nation in the world. That should never be taken lightly.  With such privilege, whether it’s financial, academic, or purely the freedom to choose, we were born the lucky ones.  Americans were born the lucky ones.  
 
I believe such fortune should never be wasted or taken advantage of.  So as our nation is celebrated, I would ask you to acknowledge the civil and human rights you’re promised there, and I would ask you to never let them go to waste.  
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“Be comforted i…

May 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world, even though you have done nothing to deserve it.” – Tinkers, by Paul Harding

Lisa Renee Hawkins

April 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

A college student miles away from home, my foremost objective is to find an entirely independent identity.  So I’ve been thinking a lot, discovering which aspects of society, and even humanity, are most important to me.  The first step is to shape an opinion, to take a position.  Therefore, I’m learning as much as I can, trying my hardest to abandon past biases and take everything in with an open mind.  Currently, I’m studying Journalism, International Relations and Political Science.  Writing and reporting is, to me, one of the most purposeful roles a person can fill.  By gaining as much experience and education that opportunity presents to me, I hope to fill this role in a very big way.

At the start of my education and independence, I’m searching every day for a new way to grow. I’m working to develop myself as an individual, an intellectual and a writer.  Whether it’s through music, television, legislature, spray paint or pencil, we’ve all got a voice. My goal is to make mine heard.