BY Yelena Kernogitski
America has her share of faults just like any kind of establishment. One that sticks out to me is our lack of freedom. Ironic, isn’t it? And you thought America was built on freedom. Specifically what I’m talking about is the lack of freedom we allow foreign countries. Our constitution declares our freedoms freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. Although we enjoy these basic rights, our government often doesn’t extend them to citizens of foreign countries. In essence we are a democracy and we have a capitalist system. Yet if other countries are not democracies, do we change them? Do we kill them? We have a freedom-inspired mindset, yet if a country doesn’t have that mentality, are they a threat?
A teacher gives you a tough problem to do, writes it on the board and says, ‘Go for it.” Just as you’re starting to understand the problem conceptually, the teacher decides to tell you the answer in class. He doesn’t give you time to solve the problem yourself. After you leave class that day, you have the solution, but you hardly understand how or why. You didn’t get a chance to go through the trial and error part and learn from your mistakes. The Middle East is the student in this case. They’re trying to solve the problem, each country in its own way, but then America decides to do it for them. They feel insufficient, as if they don’t truly get it. They don’t think like the teacher, but does that make them incorrect?
In a class full of students, every student is unique and each learns in a different way. If you teach a class a certain theory, some will buy it, some won’t. Do you fail them if they won’t? Do you bomb them? America, the self-appointed teacher, has to recognize that for some countries, our way won’t work. They learn in different ways, they have different predispositions, they have different values.
The U.S. has the most powerful military in the world. Why are we so keen on using it? For the sake of democracy? For forcing democracy where it’s not wanted? Where it doesn’t work? Some would call that security; others would call it cultural rape.
Why can’t we accept communism, accept dictatorships and accept diverse governments as we so readily accept ideologies and theories in our classes? We’re supposed to be the broad-minded ones, yet we call people with disparate views radical, suicidal, religious fanatics. Sure, there’s enough evidence to make that assumption, but isn’t that the way ethnic cleansing starts? You decide a certain group of people is a threat because they believe in their Qur’an more than they believe in democracy. You get an appalling stereotype going, turn them into people we cannot relate to, create fear and, the next thing you know, half a million people are dead.
Instead of fighting these differences, can we acknowledge them? Do we even need an opinion? The other day, I wasn’t sure which position to take in a controversial topic and a friend said, ‘You don’t always have to pick a side.” Same with America sometimes we can just observe. We don’t have to alienate some countries and befriend others.
The question it all comes down to is can America ever tolerate being an equal player in this game instead of the player that’s best friends with the referee?
*There are only two rules: Be like us, but not more powerful than us.
Kernogitski is a member of
the class of 2013.