American State of Mind (Poem-type)
by Praxis Ravenwolf
American State of Mind
If I drape myself in the colors of my country, am I an American?
To wear the flag as a mask; to what do I hide from?
If my face is the face of a true American, what need would I have to cover myself in the idea of patriotism?
Some point the finger at the covered faces of some of its people and proclaim they hide something sinister underneath;
That they intend something against what it means to be an American.
But then I ask, what is it to be a true American?
To be a true American is to be the living spirit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It is not in the colors I wear, or the place I am born.
If I wear a painted mask with stars and stripes, travel to lands beyond the place I call home,
And wage war against the people who wear other colors, am I still a true American?
Or am I nothing more than a façade, painted up to appear as something that I am not?
If I grip a gun in my right hand and the American flag in my left,
Am I to believe that this action supports life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Though I walk in the shadow of my ancestors, I look around and do not recognize my own brethren.
I see many people who wear the colors and speak the words, but so few of them live the philosophy.
A man, dressed in red, white and blue steps upon another land.
He is the man with the gun and flag in his hands.
In his path, a foreign mind, a living spirit of another time.
If he pulls the trigger and ends the life of a stranger, is he still a true American?
Was it not his duty to protect life?
Yet, here he chooses to end a life; for what cause does this American decide the fate of a stranger?
A difference in philosophy? A difference in belief system? A difference in where they were born?
Does that not contradict the very heart and soul of what our founding fathers have bleed for?
The liberty to practice what makes one happy, so long as it does not limit the freedoms of one another.
In the brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, children and strangers of this world, I do not see color, religion, race, or place of birth;
What I see is only the pangs of what it means to be a true American against the façade of what is painted as being an American.
In the young Indian girl, trapped within the culture of her people, her life prearranged by her society,
I see a choice being weighed.
One, is her submitting to the chains that have bound her life in unwanted determinism.
The second, is to embrace the American State of Mind.
She lifts her head and takes a stand against others selling her life into cultural slavery.
She demands her own right to life, liberty and her pursuit of happiness.
Though she may be born in a place that does not value this creed, to me, she is a true American.
They push and pull against her, trying to force her will into submission;
When they realize that she will not bend; they kill her—a product of the past creeping into the present.
Though she never once stepped foot upon the place I call home, she is and always will be, a true American to me.
The man trapped in the war zone within the Middle East, he desires a peace to practice his beliefs;
Strangers wearing the mask of American’s—proclaiming to be freedom fighters—step into the streets that he calls home.
In their hands, guns and flags.
Though they claim to be liberating his people, his voice as to whether this is what he desires or not, is ignored.
Those same freedoms—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—are not extended to strangers.
They are commodities that can only be sold to those willing to pay the right price.
The man must make a stand against the strangers who desire to force him into a foreign mind.
He stands up to protect his right to life, liberty and his own pursuit of happiness, and for this, he is killed.
They label him a terrorist to the American State of Mind, but this is false.
If you ask me, he was a true American who chose to die for the very things that are the essence of being a true American.
Though he was born into another culture, in another land, the things he stood for were the same things that built my country.
I will remember him as a true American—a protector of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In the Congo, there is an older woman.
She works tirelessly to unearth rare materials for major cell phone companies that claim to represent American enterprises.
Many of the founders of these companies would call themselves Americans without thinking twice.
This woman works day and night, fingers bleeding and malnourished;
Not because she wants to; not because she is free to choose her profession;
Not because she is happy working her body to the breaking point, but because she was born in a place and a time that makes her vulnerable to the greed of her fellow human.
Her employers wear the mask of Americans, but they pay her next to nothing, charity is not becoming of a capitalistic business, nor is fair wages to the bottom line.
If she does not like the pay she is given for her life of work, she will be tossed aside and in her place, a young child is placed—perhaps her own.
Her new masters now claim that she is free to leave; but they have disabled her land to the point that leaving means certain death and staying also means certain death.
These “mouthpieces of freedom” have given her the freedom to choose, but only between two paths—both leading to the grave.
The older woman desires to be free; she desires to be happy and so, she tries her best not to show her sorrow to her children.
She saves what little money she makes so that her children might escape to a better place.
She works herself to an early death so that her children might one day understand what it means to have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This woman, though she had never actually known freedom, I would call her a true American.
She lived and died to protect the rights of her children that had not even been granted by some bodiless-body, by some invisible power that acknowledges something that is God given.
I then ask, are the people who wear the mask of Americans living by the philosophy of our ancestors?
If there is a threat to America, either now or in the future; I would say that there is no such threat worse than the one that exists right here, in our own home.
To be a true American then is not where you are born, or what you look like;
It is whether or not you protect the rights of all human beings—the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
To some, I am a neighbor; to most; a stranger, but to those who live the philosophy of protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we are family.
It is for this reason that I give thanks on this day—Thanksgiving.
Not because I am a true American; but because I can share these words with the world.
Take these words and do with them what you will.
Toss them; covet them, ignore them, it matters not.
For no matter where you are in the world, you have the freedom to take these words however you may.
In this process, you are living and breathing what it means to be a true American, and thus, I say, “Welcome to the American State of Mind.”
Copyright (C) 2013 Praxis Ravenwolf