28 Words

Before you go to bed tonight, fall on your knees and thank whatever you believe in for the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Pay close attention to the very first sentence.  If nothing else, focus on the 13 words that I underlined below.

All persons bornor naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United Statesand of the state wherein they reside.”- The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution, Section 1.

This section of the 14thAmendment is known as the Citizenship Clause.  These beautiful 28 words guarantee that you, me and anyone fortunate enough to exit their mother’s womb on United States soil is a natural born citizen of the United States. That’s it.  It is nothing we earned. It is nothing we deserve.  We did not have to wait in a line.  We did not have to pass a test. We did not have to risk being trafficked.  We did not have to nearly die of dehydration seeking it—we were just lucky enough to be born here. Period.

It is easy to forget what we have.  Consider what many endure just to arrive at the US border.  More than that, consider how miserable life is in their native country that they would risk everything.  Everything.   They are willing to risk dehydration.  Willing to risk severe injury in the middle of nowhere with no medical attention.  Willing to risk a fatal rattlesnake bite.  Willing to risk drowning.  They are willing to trust a stranger and give him every penny they have because he said he can get them into the United States.  They are willing to attempt to navigate through some of the most unforgiving desert terrain in North America. They are willing to leave family and friends, possibly forever.  They are willing to cram 200+ deep into a semi-tractor trailer and watch each other suffocate.  In short, they are willing to risk death.  Why? Because to them, it is worth the risk in order to escape the increasingly violent, gang riddled, cartel-controlled areas of the world from which they came.  Things that a natural-born US citizen has difficulty understanding.  I am including myself in that sentence.  However, something we can understand is that for all of the problems we have here at home (and we certainly have our share), our issues do not hold a candle to the grave conditions in other countries, particularly in much of Central America.  Most of us born in the United States do not worry about gangs showing up at our front door to take our sons and daughters.  Most of us do not pay a tax to drug cartels in order to live. Most of us do not worry about getting shot by rival gang crossfire while walking to the store.  Most of us have never encountered a murdered body in the street.  Most of us can say that our police are good and not for sale to the highest bidder. We take these things for granted.

This was intentionally a quick read and not meant to be political in any way.  Far from it.  Your opinion on immigration, borders, the President—past or present, Congress, the police, Border Patrol does not matter to me.  All of that is irrelevant in this context.  If you are thinking about those things then you have missed the point entirely. The purpose of this piece, the only purpose, is to remind myself and hopefully at least one other person that what we have is a true gift.  A gift from your Creator if you believe in one. Or just a lucky gift from mother nature that enabled your soul to be put into a fetus that would eventually be born in the United States.  But a gift nonetheless.  Be thankful. Remember those 28 words of Section 1 of the 14thAmendment.  Think about them every day.  Get watery eyes when you think about it. Put aside your politics.  Put aside your tit for tat.  Put it all aside.  We are Americans.  We were born in the greatest country in the history of this planet.  As Barrack Obama once said –It’s not even close. Others want to be here.  Others die attempting to be here.  You are here.  You were born here.  Appreciate it.  Remember it. Love it.  Cherish it.

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