By Scott Shaw
In the past few days, since the conclusion of the most recently United States Presidential Election, there has been a lot of protesting going on in the streets of urban centers around the country fueled by people who are unhappy with the outcome of the election. One of the main things that has been noted, even by the main-stream media, is that the majority of the people who are protesting did not even vote. They did not vote due to the fact that they are either living in the United States illegally, they did not care enough to vote, or they are not citizens. In fact, a few of my friends on Facebook even stated as much. “I couldn’t vote because I’m not a citizen, but I want my voice to be heard.” Here’s the fact… If you are not a citizen, you are not part of the conversation and you should shut the fuck up. Care enough to become a citizen first, then you have a voice.
Everyone has an opinion. I get that. Me too… The fact is, more of the candidates I have believed in and have voted for over the years have lost than have won in presidential elections. That is simply the nature of the U.S. political system. But, that does not send me to the streets in a destructive rage. Then, there have been politicians I believed in like Barack Obama who did win and then really let me down by keeping virtually none of his campaign promises. (Albeit he did enter office with many of the cards stacked against him). But, that is another story altogether.
We as Americans are a functional part of a system of checks and balances. We as Americans have the right to free speech. But, we as Americans are part of a legally functioning system and that is what allows this system its functionality.
Throughout time our system has grown and evolved. Yes, this did happen through evolution and revolution but it was all accomplished at the hands of we, the American people. We who were born here or those who came here legally, just like my grandparents did when they immigrated here from Scotland and became legal, functioning citizens. We are all committed parts of this functioning whole. Many of the people who are protesting are not. They are just young people looking for a reason to rage. But, the fact is, if you do not like an elected candidate, then vote them out. Protesting on the streets equals nothing if you are not a person who actually has a voice that can be counted. If you are not a citizen than your voice cannot and should not be heard; especially when it equals damage and destruction.
I was watching the news and a reporter here in L.A. asked one of the protestors, if he was protesting because he was in the country illegally. He exclaimed I am not but I am afraid they are going to send members of my family back to Guam. This show some of the stupidity of some of the protestors. Just like Puerto Rico, and a few other places, people from Guam are U.S. citizens. This was an ideal example of someone who just wanted to take part in the chaos of the protest. And, the fact is, people who are here illegally should not be protesting at all. Most of these people want the laws to protect them but they have broken the law to get here and are reaping the benefits of this country. If you are not a legal functioning part of the Untied States, you are part of the problem not part of the solution.
I think back to a time in the 1980s when I was living in Shanghai. The local government gave my friend some serious grief. She was Chinese, I was not. They could not touch me. But they did touch her. At one point I saw the secret police that instigated the incident. Me, being an arrogant American, I went up to them and demanded an apology. I was young, angry, ready and willing to fight. One of the people with them spoke very good English and told me an apology would not happen. …This was China. It was not the United States. Thus, I had no rights. The man was correct. I had none. There was nothing I could do. Soon after that I Ieft the country. I understood. It was their country. Not mine.
Here in the States, there have been large protests throughout various parts of our history that have set about change. But, they were instigated by functioning parts of our society—citizens. People who could and did vote. Look to the Vietnam era. For example, my half-brother died in Vietnam when he was only eighteen years old. He could not even vote yet, for back then you could not vote until you were twenty-one years old. Yet, he was drafted and died for his country before he could even vote. Now that is wrong! That is something to protest about! And, people did protest. Laws were changed. We left Vietnam. But, the damage had been done.
I am sure through time these protests will diminish. But, here is the thing… We all want our voice to be heard. We all want who and what we believe in to be the winner. But, we have to be big enough, intelligent enough, caring enough to understand that our personal desires are not the end-all to the all and the everything. If you want your voice to be heard—if you want your voice to matter than you have to become a legal part of the system. For that is the only way you can change the system.
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