Contrary to what you might think, I’m not lost. I know exactly where I am. I think.

I am in the United States of America, the land of the free… the place where your rights end right where mine begins.

Or not.

You are free to do anything as long as nobody (else) gets hurt. It is a land of rights as well as responsibilities.

This land does not run itself however. It is not on auto-pilot. It is made to work by people who spend their waking hours doing their part of the national chore.

“If everyone sweeps their front yard, the whole city will be clean.”

That is one quote that I’ve always liked, because it takes responsibility of making a society function properly away from the removed distance of “the other”, the government, and places it in the hands of the citizens who must either make it work or not.

The trash cans do not empty themselves. I have seen the guys who move them.

Neither does the snow magically disappear from the roads after a major fall. The woman who drives the snow mobile does so promptly and without fail. Or else how would I be able to ride my bike to school after a major snow fall?

The floor of Peck Hall is not magically clean, nor are its walls, corridors and classroom boards all fine and good looking all by themselves. The men and women who work every day to keep them as they should be also happened not to have more than just two hands. I have seen them.

This expanse of land inherited/taken over by a generation of immigrants is an interesting study. If I were to have won a great expanse of land estate such as this, I would be quite justified to fight for its defense with everything I have. I would be justified to jealously guard it as mine. I would never take it for granted. I would live everyday in the joy of the liberty afforded by such a gift. I would be an American, spending each day in gratitude and in the knowledge of the fragility of such great present, and in the joy of company. Life would be good. I would contribute to make it what it is – a land of order and contentment, if possible. I would not kill fellow citizens because they speak a different language or live in a different part of the nation.

I have seen the bus driver. She smiles at me every time I get on the bus, and we talk back and forth either about the book she is reading at the moment, or about the latest news about Nigeria and my American experiences. The bus comes on schedule. On time, most times. I do not get shoved when I go in, and neither is there noise of horns and a lousy conductor.

I’m not crazy yet, interestingly, within the silence of order and propriety. I am surprised by this. Cacophony beckons within the memories of heat and sweat in a distant city in Western Nigeria, and I sigh. I am still in the United States of America.

Alright, I’m in the Midwest of the USA, but it’s still the same. And sometimes, the calm and order unnerves me! 🙂

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