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AMERICA CAN DO BETTER
America Can Do Better
As Americans, we pride ourselves on being the land of the free and the home of the brave. We battled England for our freedom and fought against our brethren over cotton. We came together as a nation when attacked by Japan and when those planes took down the towers.
Yet, as a nation, we are failing at taking care of our own. In our pursuit of happiness, we've lost our way. We've been blinded by the glitter of greed and we've forgotten how to love each other and the beauty of living.
We may be called the United States of America, but we are more divided as a people than ever before. Our nation of the people, for the people, by the people has become the land of the corporation, by the wealthy, for themselves.
The national motto used to be E Pluribus Unum, Latin for out of many, one. It epitomized the coming together of thirteen colonies and the birth of one nation. It represented the acknowledgment of working together for the good of everyone.
Somewhere along the way, we the people have become trapped in a game of survival where the opponent is playing with loaded dice and always changing the rules. We used to believe in hard work, honesty, and integrity. We cared for our family and we knew our neighbors. Now, we're pitted against each other at every opportunity, whether it's politically, religiously, or even the foods we choose to eat.
Social media has given everyone a soapbox to stand on, making it easier to influence others, positively and negatively. We have the ability to use these tools of communication for good but all too often we resort to feeding the beast of hatred that tells us we are better than them.
Haven't we learned anything from all the wars and fighting throughout our history on this planet? We all want the same things in life, so why haven't we succeeded in living happily ever after? Why do I live in a country that's filled with overflowing prisons where inmates receive three meals a day but our school children go hungry because they don't have the money to pay?
We certainly have a surplus of food available. Have you ever seen how much food our country wastes every day? The amount of food thrown away at every grocery store, restaurant, and hotel all across the country would blow your mind.
I worked in a grocery store back in my college days. One day I was asked to help close out the bakery for the night. After boxing up several boxes for the day-old discount bin, I was told to throw the rest away. Dozens of perfectly good donuts and pastries went in the dumpster. Multiply that by how many stores there are out there and you're looking at literal tons of food waste every day.
Yet, we have children going hungry because they can't afford school lunch. Families going without dinner while hotels are dumping uneaten meals from fancy weddings and corporate meetings into the dumpster.
Why do I live in a country where people are homeless yet the number of empty homes is 6 times the amount of people in need of a place to live? An estimated one-third of the homeless population has a severe mental illness which means if we hadn't closed down all the mental health facilities during the deinstitutionalization era, these people would be receiving proper care.
Why don't we recognize the importance of mental health care to our overall well being? We don't think twice about visiting a dentist when a tooth hurts or going to the doctor when we feel ill. When will we stop stigmatizing mental health conditions--depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD -- and learn how to treat the person suffering from the illness.
When will we understand the complexities of schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other severe disorders so that we provide the care these people, our people, need to live a happy life, even if only for a while. No one should ever have to go without basic needs being met, especially in a land full of over-indulgent, gluttonous beasts wasting valuable resources and sending us all to an early grave.
--To Be Continued
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