Independent Submission Politics

American Betrayal

I am from the United States, both physically, and mentally. Though I haven’t lived there in over five years, it plays a major role in my identity, whether I like it or not. Engulfed by my extremely liberal school, I sometimes get caught up in the idea that America sucks. Americans are stupid. The American government is evil. I walk home after a long day of school and swim practice, and I argue with my father over the most recent conflict in the United States. He always says the unjust American government is no worse than every other nation. Sure, police brutality is a problem, but he argues that it’s a problem everywhere else too. I always find myself stumped by his points. Why do I- and many of my friends- feel like the United States is so horrible when all of its evils have an equivalent from a different country?

I have thought about this a lot, and the reason many americans feel so passionately about the problems in the United States isn’t necessarily just because of the explicit wrongs. It’s betrayal. I feel betrayed by my own country. 

A part of me says that whatever I’m feeling is just the price I pay for growing up. It is simply a result of my fading ignorance and new awareness for the world around me. When I talk to my friends, who are from outside of the United States, they don’t relate in the way I’d hope. Their disappointment doesn’t root as deeply as mine. Do I personally just care more about the problems that plague my country? Am I simply overly patriotic and facing inevitable disappointment as I see the truth? 

In second grade, after I put my backpack in my cubby labeled “Annie” in large font, I sat on a colorful rug decorated with zoo animals, letters, and numbers. My classmates and I listened to the morning announcements, whispering to each other and quietly trading silly bands. We then stood up, pledged allegiance to our flag, and recited the golden rule. This was a standard morning. In fact, through the 3 other places I lived following these memories, one being an American school in a different country, the single part that remained the same was the pledge of allegiance. I recited it every morning of school through 9th grade, after which I moved to my current school in Singapore. 

None of my friends from outside of the United States share this memory with me. It may seem small, but I now realize how pledging allegiance to my country every morning for the first 9 years of school has made an impact. I am seeing life through a veil. Even if I don’t verbally express it, the way in which I was taught about the world and my own country while living in the United States causes me to feel a sense of superiority and pride for my country. It may sound like I am simply describing patriotism, but it is more. To feel patriotism I would be able to admit it. However, as I described, most of the time I wish I weren’t American. I now understand why. The education system I grew up with in the United States infected me with an inseparable feeling of pride for my country, that when challenged, uprooted my way of thought. As if all of my truths were no longer valid. 

When conservative Americans complain about the recent “anti-american” sentiments, I believe they are feeling the same thing. It is not their fault they are blinded by the United State’s “superiority.” They have been infected by the American education system just as I have, and just has everyone else in the United States has. The only difference is that I have left the place in which this force thrives in, and am surrounded by healthy people. 

Just as conservative Americans refuse to separate from this force, liberal thinking people are simply a different product of this same force. Rather than holding tightly onto their roots, they are fighting it. They are realizing that everything they have been taught is a lie, and that the United States is no better than any other country. Just as most other powerful nations, the U.S was built on faults. The only difference-causing the unparalleled passion from opposite sides of the American divide- is how we were taught. So, as different as the ideas of a middle aged white man in Texas and a teenager in California may seem, they are all the product of a veiled truth. The product of a failing education system that has lied to them. 

So, I guess the next step would be to find a solution. If we alter the American education system, will the stark division begin to disappear? What exactly needs to change? 

Independent Submission

Life below the poverty line

Graphics made by Chiara Valenzuela

As tiresome and displeasing staying inside our homes may be for a majority of us, we tend to forget the current state of those who are not fortunate enough to own a house. With no roof over their heads and a minimal amount of money, a staggeringly high number of migrant workers in India were left to sleep on the road for days.

India is a developing country, and most of its towns are constantly transitioning into megacities and metropolitans. This development requires the involvement of hundreds of labourers, and due to the current COVID-19 lockdown, thousands of these daily wage workers lost their jobs overnight. 

With over 40 million migrant workers in India, it was extremely difficult for them to have a smooth journey back to their home states. Because of the imposed regulations, finding cheap, efficient transport was a difficult task. Many even spent days walking back to their home states; some covered a mile, others ended up walking a few thousand.

Seeing beggars on a street isn’t an uncommon sight. Their cries and pleadings have no visible effect on most people passing the area. For them, it’s another beggar asking for 10 bucks but for the beggar, those 10 bucks would get him his first meal in 4 days.

The daily life of any migrant worker can be strenuous. A major of them shift to bigger cities early in their life for better exposure and opportunities. But due to the influence of the social hierarchy and economic immobility, most of them are left working 10-hour shifts at factories for a minimum wage. 

For years, India, along with countless other countries has failed to provide proper education and services to the poverty-stricken rural population. To put into perspective, the poverty line in rural India is Rs 1,059 (USD 14) a month. With such a low income, it becomes nearly impossible for the poor to get a proper education and get a well-paying job. Innumerable dreams are shattered every single day, solely because most of the population lacks access to proper resources.