Ramblings of another year gone by…
One of my dear friends recently became a United States citizen this month. After leaving New Zealand for LA 13 years ago, he now proudly sports red, white, and blue. Though granted citizenship only last week, his love, curiosity, and desire to better this country has been long withstanding. He wholeheartedly believes that one person can make positive change in this world. Truth be told, I have always thought he was on the naive side – living in a world of best-case-scenario and upbeat positivity. As a natural skeptic, I would nod my head in passive agreement, his energetic ideas of improving his community and country slowly drifting in and out of my mind’s focus.
I went to his swearing-in ceremony, held under the skyscrapers at LA’s downtown Convention Center. Over 3,000 people from all over the globe were being sworn in that morning and the energy in the building was palpable. They wore gowns of pride – their shoulders pushed back, posture tall and proud, eyes shining with hope. “America, the Beautiful” played over the speakers – loud and soulful – and I felt myself begin to get emotional. I started to think of the people in this world who try to move to America to better their families and their own life. Who are stuck in a place where all they want to do is escape. Who don’t have a voice, but want only to be heard. I began to think of how complacent I’ve been all these years. I am about to embark on another year and only now have I realized, while sitting in a building composed of all walks of life, that I have taken this country for granted. Shame on me for being skeptical. For thinking that my friend lived in a naive world and that my opinion doesn’t really make a difference.
I sat in the audience that day and realized my life from this point on cannot and will not be the same. This year, I will not take my rights in this country for granted. I will educate myself and raise my voice. I will do what I can to better my community. I will celebrate in the fact that we are all allowed different opinions and that no matter your country of origin, every voice is equal. With it being an election year, I am proud to participate and cast my vote in freedom. And that’s the greatest birthday gift anyone could ask for.
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