|Proudly displaying both on my desk everyday|
It’s July 4 and I’m proud to be an American.
It’s not that arrogant American pride that makes the rest of the world cringe. It’s that, wow-we’re-still-a-country pride since America’s roots were, in reality, an experiment in the theory of democracy.
But here we are a democracy for better or worse. We have rights that other countries wish they can guarantee to their citizens. Among the ones nearest and dearest to my heart is the first amendment which gives me the right to even think about having this blog and writing these words. It reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
So when I look at freedom and I think about how the press exercises and challenges these freedoms therefore making them stronger, I think not about those who are using it but those who don’t have it.
I think about blogger Yoani Sanchez. She is a journalist, writer, blogger from Cuba. She blogs from there. She gives us snap shots of life in Cuba, the real life, the truth without the veil of nostalgia.
Cuba is a closed island and has been since the late 50s. The Castro government has ensured that their word is law, has ensured that their citizens have free healthcare and education but at the cost of their basic rights. Or in this case, their basic writes.
As we have ensured that the experiment of democracy survives, so has the Cuban government worked toward the experiment of communism.
There is no speech that originates in the mind of a free people. There is no religion that is not monitored. There is no free press that does not cost more than the news stand price. No peaceful demonstrations, no petitions for redress of the government; that is paid for with life.
Therefore something as simple as internet access is monitored, filtered, and slow. She is limited by the screeching sound of a dial up connection.
Then this makes Yoani’s blog and its role in the blogsphere more powerful. We know how social media helped bring down a government and the power it gives people, the primal lust for freedom. Her blog stands for freedom of speech, of expression, and thought. Her blog criticizes the government for all it’s faults though it has come to great determent to her personally And above all, it tells her story.
Her blog is American.
Her blog is what our founding fathers had in mind. Yes, of course they did not know that blogging would be such a big thing in 1776 but the safety of saying what comes to mind is. This is what they had in mind and this is what Yoani is exercising everyday. And by exercising she, in the small island of 90 miles from our border, is making democracy stronger.
So yes, I am damn proud to be an American. We have faults, we hate each other, we love each other, we love to hate each other but that doesn’t matter. What is freedom to us is a dream to others. The American dream isn’t a house with a white picket fence and children and a car. Our dream is the reality of our Constitution, the soul of our Bill of Rights, and Yoani.
She writes the American dream everyday.