Can anybody tell me what it means to be an American anymore? I’ve always wondered what people meant by phrases such as “I’m proud to be an American,” or “God bless America,” because not all of those people are talking about people who live in America. I understand that it means something different to everybody, based on the numerous people I’ve asked during the past couple of years, but there seems to be a more general ideology upon which the definition of American is based.

I imagine many people look wistfully upon a time when America was on top of the world, and some of those people may desperately try to convince themselves that America is still this way. America will not be a hegemon for long, and it has nothing to do with any other country’s agenda “against us.”

I want to generate new ideas, because the system needs to change along with the times. For one thing, America need not be so concerned with maintaining its “superior” position in the world.

Why does anybody need to be superior? Why do we have to meddle so much?

I am not proud to be American based on the way we as a nation conduct ourselves in the world. We are pushy and think we know best, but we don’t. Every culture has its own way of doing things, and we need to be tolerant. The new system is one that accommodates individual differences, not just in the world, but within our own nation. Another person’s lifestyle has nothing to do with you, and until it directly affects your well-being, why should there be laws enacted to control that lifestyle? Let people do their own thing, and when they make stupid decisions, don’t make a far-reaching law that assumes the stupidity of the population.

Our focus should not be on controlling the lives of others. Why isn’t education at the top of our list? Education is a crucial process in everyone’s life, even if it’s not carried out in the way we think of it. The system overworks and underpays teachers, so is it any wonder our country is failing to consistently produce outstanding individuals?

I sat in the back of a large lecture hall one day. At the beginning of class, a group of athletes asked each other, “How long are you going to stay today?” “I don’t know, probably 20 minutes.” “Man, I think I’m just going to bail right now.” Girls swirling their $8 lattes chit-chatted several minutes past the professor’s first words, and didn’t stop until I told them to. Why don’t we take our education seriously? Probably because we realize it is only a piece of paper that means we were able to finish something, so we only need to do the bare minimum to succeed.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, so wrong. I try not to judge, because who am I to do so? But use your damn brain. Knowledge isn’t as important as the way we use it, which is to make informed decisions that account for the vast diversity in the world. People in this country are aware of their needs, their schedule and their priorities, and screw everyone else’s unless helping someone else does them a favor as well.

Granted, this isn’t everyone, and if I were to talk to people individually, I hope they wouldn’t say they believe education is worthless. It is this general attitude that is evident in the way our country is run. The individuals that make up this system are far ahead of the system itself, yet nothing has changed.

I don’t know what needs to happen, so why don’t you tell me what you think should be done? We cannot sit passively and wait for politicians to do the right thing. The power is in the hands of the people, and we cannot complain until we use this power.

Politicians have to power to enact change; we just need to inform them what we want done, and if they see enough support behind an idea, they will listen, because a politician’s success depends on the support of the people.