"The Spirit of America" by Riley Lewis
The American Revolution was one of the most remarkable events in the history of humanity. The coalition of centuries worth of progress, technological innovation, philosophy, and shared wisdom resulted in the birth of a nation that governed at the consent of the governed.
It should be stated for the record that the United States of America is not a perfect country in theory or practice. At the time of its creation, the US Constitution inherited all of the wisdom, conviction, and knowledge of the founders, however, it also inherited their flaws, prejudices, and ignorance. The fruits of this new nation were not extended to African-Americans, indigenous populations, women, or any man that did not own land. The United States, therefore, is inherently connected to the legacy of colonialism, racism, slavery, political persecution, and acts of genocide. However, the United States is also a beautiful nation and I intend to fight for the preservation of this nation.
On the fourth of July, 1881, the Statue of Liberty was gifted to the United States, by the people of France, as a gesture indicating admiration for the preservation of liberty. Moreover, liberty is one of the key ingredients in the preservation of democracy. To that end, the power of the American Revolution lies in the fact that at least half of all nations in the world are Democracies. This does not mean these nations are perfect democracies, however, the American Revolution sparked a domino effect that resulted in 150 years of democratic revolutions around the world.
The civil upheaval in Hong Kong is an excellent example of the ripple effect felt by the American Revolution. Activists have been engaged in a campaign to save their way of life for over one year A simple google image search of the protests in Hong Kong shows a sea of American flags and various signs calling for independence. This is a routine the world has come to know, and we also know how this nightmare ends if we do nothing to stop. If democracy can be corrupted and/or defeated in Hong Kong, then it can be defeated right here in the United States.
The city of Hong Kong was a British-controlled territory until 1997 when British authorities agreed to cede the city back to China. However, there were indeed strings attached to this arrangement; the city would be allowed to operate quasi-independently for 50 years, until 2047, under a deal known as the “one country, two systems” model.
Following the 1997 handover, the Chinese government has repeatedly tried to suppress the residents of Hong Kong, reminding them of who is really in power, the Communist Party of China. In the summer of 2019, the Chinese government attempted to pass a bill that would extradite alleged criminals to the mainland. This bill faced widespread resistance from the people of Hong Kong who perceived this as a threat to the 1997 agreement.
As of September of 2020, the protests in Hong Kong continue to indicate a powerful resistance movement in the city. Since the outbreak of the resistance, over 10,000 citizens have been apprehended by authorities and over 2,000 people injured. This is important to understand because a threat to liberty anywhere is a threat to liberty right here at home. As Ben Franklin said, “our cause is the cause of all mankind...we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own.”
Franklin's assertion is tried and true, and if we allow liberty to be tarnished in the name of security then we will never know a peaceful, just, or free world. In 2020, just over half of the nations on Earth contain democratic elements. The arc of history is gradually bending toward justice, and this is the essence of our fight to preserve Democracy.
The spirit of America is not defined by the atrocities committed by American colonists or the government itself. There is no way to defend the torture of indigenous people’s, or the torture and enslavement of African Americans until 1865, and there is no way to defend a system that benefited the few at the expense of the many. However, this is also a beautiful, diverse nation full of dreamers, activists, scholars, community organizers, futuristic thinkers, engineers, pioneers, and innovators.
Furthermore, the United States of America will not perish at the hands of an external force, it will be an inside job. If we choose to stay together, as a union, then we have a fighting chance to make this a wonderful place to live for all people regardless of wealth or status. However, I fear that we are losing sight of this union. Our social fabric is melting away like a Slurpee in the sun, and everything that we know and love is at stake.