America is a beautiful nation. We, the American people, are a beautiful people. But we are in pain, and I cannot help but see it every day. When I look unto our homeless friends, I see military veterans. I see people who have served the country they love, who carry with them horrors of war. And we have forgotten them. When I look unto our homeless friends, I see people who have worked diligently to make ends meet, who have dedicated more than the expected 40 hours a week to scrape by only to still face financial hardship. Our homeless friends are in pain.
When I look unto our friends who look anything other than white, I see people who have to take extra steps to get by in society. I see people who miss their families because they were deported, whose families may still be stuck in a war-torn city from which they were sent away. I see people who tense up more than the average American when they are around police, who crave equality and are still demonized when they protest peacefully. They are in pain.
When I look unto our friends whose sexual orientation or gender is different from what we are used to, I see people who are afraid of being ousted by their own family and friends. I see people who wish to love, but find it hard to love themselves in a society that is so unaccepting. They are in pain.
We are in pain, and we can all feel it. The way we treat each other reflects that. We have to find compassion for one another, replace our hatred with love. Those worthless junkies are your friends, and they are in pain. Those disrespectful football players are your friends, and they are in pain. Those annoying protesters are your friends, and they are in pain.
We are in pain, and instead of paying attention to one another, we look for somewhere to place blame for it all. We are to blame. We are to blame for letting divisive politics get to us; we are to blame for not recognizing that we are fighting over the same small slice of pie, for not seeing that we are being taken advantage of.
Greed has blinded us from what is right: it has pacified our capacity for love. Greed has shaped the media to give us a sensationalized sense of paranoia so they can better their ratings. Greed has been poisoning our democracy and those who are supposed to represent us. Taking care of us is not in their best interest, and so we have to take care of each other. We are in pain because we have forgotten that America belongs to its people. It is the country we all love, the country which values justice and equality.
We must fight for those values, let our hearts bleed for one another. So many of us are facing hard times, but I believe in a better future. We have to fight for our friends; we have to fight for our children, and their children. We all crave happiness. Our quarrel is not with each other, but with the propagation of fear, hatred, and greed. We, the people, must fight for the democracy which belongs to us. We must stand together. We must fight for freedom, for justice, for America!
Taylor Ganger is a Troy resident at a student in Vivian Blevins’ communications class at Edison State Community College.