on being a citizen…

yesterday, was the fourth of july…

for many americans, it’s a time to celebrate our country’s independence from tyranny, our past and present military men and women, and the basic rights and freedoms, that we enjoy as a result of our american citizenship.

for many other americans, it’s a time for family tradition and ritual, parties, loud music, bbq’ed hamburgers and hot dogs, beer and booze, swimming, picnics, fireworks and sparklers, lots and lots of noise, accidentally lost fingers and thumbs, and unintentional brush and house fires.

yesterday, my friend showed me a post that she had made on facebook. i thought that it was a nicely worded post that summarized the true spirit of why americans celebrate the fourth of july, and what it meant to her, to be celebrating, too.

initially, that was exactly what i thought, no more, and no less. then, she said something to me, that i didn’t expect. she told me that she felt bad, that she couldn’t make that post, without declaring herself to be a, non-citizen.

as i understand this, our government, doesn’t take kindly to residents with green cards, taking pride in our country, and wanting to belong.

with my kindergarten education, of immigration rules and regulations…i think that making statements, even pro-american, without being a citizen, can be cause for an immigration snafu.

forgetting, as i always do, that my friend is not yet a citizen, i was taken aback. why? because friend is the biggest fan of the usa, that i have ever known, in my entire life.

most everything she wears has the american flag on it. she tells me that she’d always dreamed about coming to the usa, but never thought that she would. i’m guessing that my friend even dreams in red, white, and blue.

the first words out of my mouth, upon hearing her say that she felt bad, and why were,”you know, i think that, that’s ridiculous. you are way more of an american, than i’ve ever been.”

as the words left my mouth, i watched her shake, her head. initially, i think that maybe she thought that i was just placating her, and trying to make her feel better. but then, she asked me to explain.

i told her that i never had to do anything for my citizenship. i didn’t have to declare an oath, fight to protect my country, or pass a citizenship test.

i explained that all i had to do, for each of my wonderful rights and freedoms, was to emerge from my mother’s vagina, in la mesa, california…and, there you have it…my american citizenship.

then, i explained that to her, citizenship means everything. it means being able to make posts of american pride, on facebook, without feeling bad, for not being included. it means rights and freedoms. it means pride in country.

i concluded by telling her that she was more of an american, than i was, because she truly loves this country. she loves it so much that she is running and jumping through hoops, opening her life completely up to be checked, rechecked, and scrutinized…repeatedly. she is studying us history, civics, economics, and sociology…to take, and pass a test, in order to become a citizen. and finally, she must take an oath, of allegiance, to the country…her country, that she loves.

quite honestly, i’ve been pretty jaded about my citizenship. sure i’ve been grateful for freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, our usa military men and women, the right to vote, and free elections…but, i never ever thought about it from the other side.

my friend has opened my eyes, and without knowing it (until she reads this), got this seriously, old dog…to learn a new trick…compassion, and a completely different stance on immigration.

my take away is this, perhaps in these troubled times, of wars, rumors of wars, and terrorism…and with, the new fear of “homegrown” terrorism…could it be time to hold citizens, and non-citizens a like…to a new, “gold standard,”where, “what’s good for the goose, is good for the gander?”

my thought is now this: being a citizen, does not guarantee, that you are automatically, “a good guy,” and not a terrorist…and, being a non-citizen, does not guarantee, that you are automatically, “a bad guy,” and a terrorist.

i realize that this will probably be, a pretty unpopular, subversive stance to be taking, and a complete reversal of everything that i’ve ever considered…but, until we can all get on the same page, treated the same way…how will we ever be able to trust each other?



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