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This may not be the country that gave birth to me, but it is a country that has nurtured me. It is a country that has given me tough love, but love nevertheless. It is a country that broke me in half and then put me back together.
It is a country that showed me that I am tougher than I think. I can take more than I can comprehend. I can rise up higher than I believe I’m capable of.
Now that I’m older, I can’t help but wonder if it is indeed a country—with its principles, a moral compass, and laws. Or perhaps if it is just a front for what it really is ... America, Inc.
If you have ever traveled somewhere for an extensive period of time, that place has probably left an imprint or an after taste upon returning home.
For me ... I’ve always noticed how other countries prioritize quality time with their families and friends over work, their mental health, rejuvenation, and relaxation ahead of extra work hours.
You wonder why is it that it’s illegal in France to send work related emails after hours? Why do Italians skip Monday all together and resume business operations on Tuesday?
Our American mindset and overreaching ambitions have morphed us into money-hungry individuals no matter what our current socio-economic situation is.
In Chicago, for example, according to the polling results of Rent Cafe, the average rent is $1,893 which is a five percent spike since its previous year. It only keeps getting higher and higher as more infrastructure is added. For some, that is the equivalent of their entire monthly paycheck ... So therefore, most resort to move to the suburbs and commute to work using public transportation.
For those that choose to stick it out because living in the city is much more convenient logistically, they have to pick up a part-time side hustle just to live comfortably.
I can attest to this that almost every single 20 to 30-something has, has had, or will have to work a part-time side job to make rent and other payments.
It is ridiculous.
We’re encouraged to seek a post-secondary diploma only to look at our W-2 forms with a disappointing grimace ... And don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful to even have a job in this unstable economy, but it’s more about the time that is being wasted for the amount of money that is put back into bills, taxes, fees etc.
If you live in the state of Illinois, you’re paying for plastic bags every time you go grocery shopping, $200+ in monthly parking fees, crazy amounts in state and federal taxes, 24 to 30 percent in APR interest rates for anything on credit, and of course the rent increases every single year.
Studios, which on average, are 450 square feet in size are beginning at $1000+ and if all this money is going toward something that we can enjoy for only a few hours a day ... Is it really worth it?
America is starting to treat its residents as hamsters on a wheel. I had come to this conclusion on my commute to work one day. We have stopped communicating. We have stopped interacting. We have failed to stop and smell the roses, admire the beauty of our city’s gorgeous architecture, or even check on our homeless friends who, at the end of the day, are thankful for just a warm smile.
This country’s mission is to disable all sense of human compassion, interaction, common sense or sensibility.
How fast can you go? How much can we squeeze out of you before your savings account is drained and the sheer idea of any emergency funds becomes an obsolete entity?
America, Inc ... This isn’t a country, it’s a corporation ... Or at least it's being run like a corporation. Its business motto is to go, go, go and stop when you’re dead.
I love the hustle and bustle of Chicago, but The Bean is too precious to not stop and admire from time to time, the buildings and city lights are too bright not to illuminate and catch my eye, and the people are too beautiful to not get to know.
I don’t want to fall into the trap of America, Inc’s grotesque greedy paws. I want to be able to love and like my city every day, contribute to its local businesses and touristic attractions, take a day away from the office and indulge in the beauty of Millennium Park ... Instead of resenting it for making me late to work AGAIN because of some idiot who forgot to use the turn signal on Lake Shore Drive.
Money is an acquired means; it comes, it goes. It’s meant to be earned as much as it is meant to be spent ... But it’s not worth sacrificing precious time which can never be bought or given back.