by Kristin Baker Przybyla
It was just bad timing, actually. The people in the house behind our backyard were apparently involved in some kind of illegal activity, and they were staking out not only our yard, but our next-door neighbors'. I had to grab the kids from the back bedrooms in case guns were fired, but luckily, after a three-hour standoff, it ended peacefully. We never knew exactly what had happened--but they broke our backyard furniture when they used it to climb over the fence!
This event reassured as well as terrified me. I was so relieved when I found out it wasn't the end of the world after all; things were still going on as they normally would (although this kind of thing isn't normal in our neighborhood!), even if things would never be exactly the same.
And they aren't, not really. Americans are freedom-loving people, and we've had to give up a few freedoms and privacies in the ten years since 9/11.
I just finished reading The Hunger Games. There's an appalling lack of freedom and basic human rights that the future citizens of North America have to endure in these novels. The life of an individual means nothing to those in power, and you soon find out that even the privileged ones born in the supposedly safe Capitol hardly have any more rights than those who live in hunger and poverty in the districts that serve the Capitol. In these books, you get a horrifying sense of what life would be like if everyone from the president to the local police had the right to kidnap children and exploit them for entertainment, or publicly torture or execute a citizen just for speaking out or trying to feed their families.
There are countries where atrocities like this do go on. I'm so grateful to have been born in a nation whose citizens value their freedoms enough to fight for them. I'm thankful that we continue to stand strong and resist those trying to take our freedoms away from us. I pray that the oppressed people in other countries will someday gain the liberties that so many of us are able to take for granted.