Happy Independence Day, America

I am grateful to be an American. I am lucky to live in a country where I have rights as a woman, which I might not have otherwise. I can marry whom I choose, drive a car, dress how I want to, vote, get an education. As an American, I am thankful to feel safe leaving my home, to not hear bombs outside my window, that I can worship whichever God I choose, speak my mind, have access to food and clean water, the list goes on.

That said, It’s impossible for me to celebrate a holiday, or to be grateful for the luxuries, rights and freedoms I have, without thinking about the plight of others. After all, can you really be grateful without knowing what’s on the other side? On July 4th, I am grateful, though not necessarily proud. July 4th is bittersweet as I think about the many individuals, and entire groups of people, in this very country that don't have the same luxuries and freedoms as I personally do. Many face violence, racism, persecution, can't feed their children. I think of the millions of people around the world who aren't free, don't have rights, choices, have no place to call home, who suffer- many cases of which America itself is largely responsible. I think it's important to think always, but especially on days like these,  of those who are less fortunate, and contemplate how we can be better people, and the ways in which we, as individuals, communities and as a country, can improve the lives of all peoples, everywhere.
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