Getting back to a culturally aware America

Thisanjali Gangoda

Where is the America I believe in? As days go by, our sweet land of freedom, unity and liberty seem to be slipping away because of rampant partisan politics, ideology warfare and the biased media.

There seems to be collective disinterest in learning what is true and rational and more of an interest in the dramatization of reality. I find it rather petty and unproductive to let these entities dictate conversation, as they end up having no real direction or action to follow up the specific tenets that are preached.

I might be na’ve, clinging on to the last of my father’s American dream, but I don’t think I’m being foolish. All my life my father spoke of what it means to be a “true American,” how to live your life according to base values of passion, commitment, honesty and acceptance. He believed that in America, a person could accomplish anything they wished to if they were diligent and worked hard to achieve their goals.

Though a person would mostly work independently to achieve these goals, my father felt that community and family were always important to any kind of success. Having grown up in Sri Lanka, a developing nation ravaged by civil war and ethnic tensions, both my father and mother understood the importance of education as a means of peaceful living. They understood the daily struggle and hardships other people lived through in Sri Lanka, and when they came to the States to raise my brother and me, they were sure to raise us as mindful people.

I’m lucky; I know this to be very true because I have two perspectives to use in any given situation. I’m both Sri Lankan and American, and this has allowed me to be thoughtful and happy. I have the best of both worlds. At the same time it can be overwhelming, as I’m much more critical and demanding of the people around me, of myself and of the America I’m growing up in.

Complacency and apathy have become quite the catchphrases of my generation, and it is bewildering to me. Considering the state of the world today and the history of past American grassroots movements, what happened to the active youth of America? We all have our roots, our beginnings, so why is it so hard to forge them into something real?

These days it seems easier for people to sit back and watch the world crumble beneath their very feet. As long as the Internet, television, car and microwave are in working order, there is nothing to worry about. These days there are so many outlets of expression and information, we forgot the grand scheme of things because of our muddled personal interests.

If we just stepped back a moment to reflect on where we came from, I think there could be a revival of cultural awareness and discipline from the youth of this country. America is the microcosm of the world, with peoples of all sorts of race, nationality, religion and belief; it is a beautiful thing. We have lost sight of what makes us strong, and instead of uniting over our differences, we have been uniting over fear, bigotry and insensitivity. Unless we work together again with mutual respect and understanding, I feel that the future of the America I know is lost.

Thisanjali Gangoda is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].