Over the past few days, I’ve been pondering what it means to be a good American. Before I can unpack that thought, I have to backtrack and ask myself, what does it mean to be a good human? To answer my original question, to be a good human, one must be compassionate, care about important issues, be trustworthy, consider the world and the impact of their actions, and so on. As one person on this Earth, however, I don’t think that I can truly answer this question. To define what it means to be a good human, it would have to be a collective effort so that, at the very least, multiple perspectives are considered and respected. The list will never stop growing as our species continues to transform.
In reaching my tentative conclusion, I asked another question, does it even matter? The world is bursting with kind people who are taking action against real issues such as starvation, abuse, war, bullying, and everything else that has ever hurt anyone, if only for a microsecond. Yet, when I look at the news, these issues seem unaffected by the valiant efforts and appear to only get worse. It’s extremely discouraging and even with the anger poetry I write, my words and voice never feel like enough to create change. However, I’ve come to a point in my life where I’ve decided not to give up. I want to make everything matter, to answer my second question.
A couple of days ago, in Creative Writing Two, we read a interview of Mauro Javier Cardenas, the author of the recently published novel, The Revolutionaries Try Again. In this interview, done by Charlotte Whittle, Cardenas remarked that he wrote the novel “moment by moment.” I believe that this can be applied to all aspects of life. At this crazy time of complete uncertain, which I think is strongly felt across the entire world, we have to take life in moment by moment, step by step, breath by breath. We then can face the change that is currently happening and, hopefully, come out on the other side as better people. I still haven’t answered my original question what it means to be a good American and at this point—I don’t know if I can. Instead, I’ve tried to make sense of my current reality by considering other perspectives to help cultivate the correct answer for myself. In doing this, for now, I must live moment by moment, if only to stay sane.
Harmony Wicker, class of 2018