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A Voice of Democracy

A short paper I wrote for the "Voice of Democracy" competition back in high school.

By Madison NewtonPublished 6 months ago 4 min read

Why is American history so significant? After all, the vast majority of students nationwide have been told since day one to focus on preparing for the future, so why do teachers, professors, and even parents insist that we learn so much about the past? Well, while many of us might not aspire to be historians when we grow up, there is something to be said for how history has impacted all of us as Americans, even if none of us were around when our nation was founded. Sure, everything that our nation has been through up until now can’t be changed, as there’s no going back in time. Slavery, segregation, political and economic reform, industrialization, and even war, happened, and are now permanently documented in the history books. If we can’t change anything about history, even the parts we aren’t proud of, what’s the point in learning about it?

Well, the answer to that is simple: rather than try to change American history, by better understanding it, we can instead learn from it, and use it when making future decisions that will impact our children. Now, some might argue that history can be interpreted in different ways by different people, and so, there might not always be a correct way of going about things in the future, even with the wisdom of history itself to guide us. However, it’s up to us as Americans, even if we do have occasional disagreements, to come together, and form solutions that will ultimately benefit everyone.

In recent years, a lot has changed regarding the ways in which we view each other as citizens of the same country. In fact, a lot has changed regarding the ways in which we view the country itself. With ongoing racial discrimination, gender inequality, and even issues with immigration policy, it might start to get a little difficult to keep one's head up, and look forward to the future. Yes, we have come a long way, but until we address even the minor issues our country faces, and begin to work together to find solutions to them, there will still exist the ceaseless worry that future generations will have to deal with the same issues, long after the rest of us have passed on.

So what do we do? Well, for starters, we accept the fact that each individual person will have their own opinion on any matter at hand. It’s time to stop forcing ideas and beliefs onto other people. If the First Amendment means anything, it means everyone is entitled to freely practice their own religion, voice their own opinions, and publish their own beliefs. The minute we start limiting such freedoms with needless censorship, the minute we start talking over one another, and fighting over which opinion is the ‘right’ one, is the minute we will be forced to acknowledge the beginning of the end. As if that wasn’t enough, we have to start communicating. No, not through Facebook, text messaging, Instagram, or even Twitter. We have to start talking. Perhaps arguing here and there, perhaps raising our voices on occasion, but at the very least speaking, face-to-face, with one another, and actually listening. If we truly want to call ourselves the United States of America, we have to actually unite, and stop treating each other as if we are nothing more than emojis on a phone screen.

Furthermore, if we are ever going to pave the way for a brighter tomorrow, we have to stop trying to pave over what mistakes were made yesterday. Tearing down monuments, flags, or any other painful reminders of the darker side of history, might not be the right thing to do when looking at the big picture. While we might be ashamed of the fact that slavery existed in early America, what we should be more ashamed of is the fact that we are now trying to rid the nation of all evidence of it, as if we are trying to forget that it ever existed. As uncomfortable as it might be to admit it, slavery was an extremely important detail along our nation’s timeline. To try and cross it out now would be a mistake, as it is the very memory of it that haunts us now, and keeps history from repeating itself. Is it really in our best interest to tear down statues of our Founding Fathers because they owned slaves themselves? Does it really seem mature of us to ‘downplay’ slavery in textbooks, and in classrooms, so that it might not seem so horrific? Having open, honest discussions about our past, present, and future on a national level, is the key to our success as a country in years to come.

Keeping that in mind, if we do embrace the nature of our past, and if we do learn to communicate with each other and welcome varying opinions, there is absolutely nothing stopping us from allowing our nation’s vision for the true United States of America to become reality. A United States where there is equality throughout all walks of life, and where there is great diversity and culture, without the threat of discrimination, or prejudice. A United States, that is truly united.

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About the Creator

Madison Newton

I'm a recent graduate of Stony Brook University with a degree in Environmental Humanities and Filmmaking. I love writing and storytelling, and I love sharing my work so I can continue to improve my written voice.

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  • Quincy.V6 months ago

    a thoughtful and optimistic perspective...... well written............

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