Being an American means being afraid. Afraid of your government. Afraid of your police. Afraid of surveilence. Afraid of your future.
Being an American means no right to trial, no habeas corpus, no privacy, and ever dwindling legal rights. No legal protections from corporate greed, environmental devastation, work place safety. No legal right to protest, no Free Speech.
Being an American means needing a passport to travel across our continental borders. It means having to register when you leave, and when you return.
Being an American means your employer can fire you and send your high tech job overseas. It means your company can steal your pension, and rig your 401K without pesky regulations to protect us.They can skip our annual raises, and Christmas bonuses, while they stuff their own pockets with profits.
It means you can sicken and die when you can't afford the medications that can save, prolong, or improve your life.
Being an American without "means" means your children can't grow up to be President anymore. It means your elected representatives don't have to listen to your voice. No Cash? No Voice.
Being an American means the banks, insurance companies, the merchants can steal your money without having to answer to anyone. They can pay themselves grand bonuses, and drive $100,000 automobiles. Live in huge palatial homes, in untold comfort while Americans still live in F.E.M.A. trailers, and homes without heat.
Being an American means forgetting everything you grew up believing in. Justice, Fair Play, Work Hard and Get Ahead. Honesty is the Best Policy. Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps. Cheaters Never Prosper.
Truth, Justice and the American Way. Gone, all gone.
I used to say the Pledge of Allegience every morning at school, eyes watering with pride. Went to college with the help of my government. Traveled all over Europe proudly, as an American. I've lived in large cities and small towns in America happy to work hard, raise my children with values and honesty. Vote and participate as an American with pride. What has Happened to America?
What is left of the "American Dream" is a nightmare of fear, growing deprivation, unaffordable housing, college out of the question, and prosperity out of reach. This is what it means to be an American in 2006.
I love my America, the one I still (foolishly) believe in. I want it back.