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Better

Liberty and justice for all?

by Huck Konopacki

Opening

In this piece I hope to address the controversial beginnings of privilege and thought superiority that many "Americans" have about minorities that also would consider themselves "Americans." I may offend many people, and I am not trying to tell you that you are wrong, because this is merely my theory about how the world that I know has become this way.  

I would like to start out by defining liberty and justice, because those are two words and concepts that are key to this piece. Liberty is "the quality or state of being free," as defined by Merriam Webster's dictionary, and justice is "the maintenance or administration of what is just, especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments." 

The Beginning

If you know anything about the history of the United States, then you know that this country was founded by a group of British settlers looking to separate themselves from the oppressive hand of the British king. The United States of America was founded in 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

There are already dozens of problems with this story. A group of white men, from Britain, decided that the people already existing in the area did not deserve to be there. They seized a piece of land that was already inhabited and claimed it as their own. The settlers believed that they were better than the people that had lived on that land for as long as they could remember. 

This is already a bad start for a country that's supposed to be based upon freedom and equality, yet the founders did not even acknowledge the freedom or equality to the population that had lived without intervention forever. 

The radical actions that people committed in order to make the American Revolution happen would be perceived completely differently in today's world. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 was a monumental event during which several Bostonians dressed up as Native Americans, boarded a ship, and dumped millions of dollars worth of tea into the Boston Harbor in protest to the British crown giving the British East India Company the monopoly on the sale of tea. 

This would have actually lowered the price of tea, despite what you may have previously learned or thought, because the people were so disgruntled. These actions were one of many escalating events that led to the partition of the colonies from Britain and a country was created in the process: the United States of America. 

Effects

The United States was founded, people were happy and rejoicing, but not all people. In the beginning, the only people who were granted rights in the government process were property-owning white males. That later changed and has evolved over the centuries to allow women and men of all races and backgrounds to vote, but the effects are still present.

In today's America, white men seem to have the upper hand in all aspects of life. They get the jobs, they make money, and they live lives, which are successful. The foundation of the United States was a great thing, but it also created a population that would continue to have the same unfair values for many, many years. 

Kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem has become a regular occurrence that is widely controversial for so many reasons, but the United States is a free country in which people have freedom of speech, press, religion, but that seems to be continuously taken away from people. 

If the United States of America is asking you to pledge allegiance to their country in exchange for "liberty and justice for all," then they should be expected to uphold those standards. An American citizen has every right to speak out against their country, especially if they feel wronged by what is going on. 

We can do better.

Just because the government has not stood by their word, does not mean that the American people can do better. As we express our thoughts and protests, we must stand together and remain strong. In a time of internal despair and disorder, we must stand together in order to maintain the limited number of morals and guidelines that this country has left. 

As you continue your lives, remember that everyone should have justice and liberty, because that was promised to us when we became citizens. Strive to be better by carrying "liberty and justice for all" throughout the rest of your lives until these standards are met. 

And remember, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela.