Free will. Knowing your life is your own, and acting on that knowledge. You feel the muscles in your neck straining, as your head faces the tub and the water bleeds out of your hair, forming a mosaic of colors on the white ceramic. You hear the smack of your shoes on the road underneath you, as you walk with the intent of a message in each step. You see the backlight of a TV screen in your favorite coffee shop flashing the spelt out words of a news reporter responding to the criticism of the president, you know that you are able to pick either side. Your chest goes fuzzy as you look at the flag, seeing your choices in each star.
Happiness. Waking up excited to be alive, hoping for something new each day. You feel your insides vibrate and swell, as a melting pot of people swirl around you and a beat reverberates in your head. You hear the laughter of your family, and the creak of a rusty swing as the children play at the park, and plan on getting home before dark. You see your brothers smile in every Facebook picture of him discovering this beautiful country. Your lips tighten in a smile when you see the return of your sister in uniform, who makes being happy possible for all.
Freedom. The foundation of our country, and the thing that provides emotional security in the place you call home. You feel your back straighten, as everyone’s eyes are on you. You hear the stadium go silent, as the flag rises and the national anthem begins. You see yourself on the jumbo screen, and you look so much bigger than the man you are, for now you represent an idea. Your knee rests on the turf and you know you are free to do so. Freedom is all things, not pick and choose. Your heart breaks for your cause, but knits back together when you hear the words “ Land of the free,” over the speakers.
Unity. You can sit at the back of a bus, but the bus will still transport others. You can refuse to eat, but the food will still still nourish others. You can kneel at the anthem, and you can love it all at once. With freedom all things are possible to all people. No cowering, no silencing, and no violence required.
America. It will stand with its citizens, even those who voice the opposite.