My name is Karishma Shah. I am a citizen of the United States of America. I am of Indian origin.
I was born in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. My parents, sister and I immigrated to America when I was just a few years old. I have spent the majority of my life in America.
I went to several different schools here.
I am a full-time employee here.
I have an abundance of culturally diverse friends here.
I practice my religion openly here.
I celebrate American Independence Day here.
I also celebrate Indian Independence Day here.
I learned the pledge of allegiance and sang it in school every morning here.
I post about my culture and religion publicly here.
I have been to churches and mosques and prayed to many Gods here.
I celebrate Diwali, Holi, Uttarayan and other various cultural festivals here.
I also celebrate Easter, Halloween and Christmas here.
I learned about American history and politics here.
I vote each and every time since I was of age here.
I openly speak Gujarati here.
I am mindful of the happenings in India here.
I follow national sports here.
I also follow the Indian cricket team here.
I possess both an American flag and an Indian flag here.
I learn about various cultures through the diversity of people here.
I learn bits and pits of various languages here.
I openly and publicly express my thoughts and opinions here.
I wear tank tops and skirts without a thought here.
I go to temples here.
I find vegetarian options here.
I am catered Jain food when there are religious holidays here.
I travel to India almost yearly here.
I donate to local charities here.
I also contribute to charities that aid in international issues here.
I help those who need help, regardless of race here.
I have never openly said I am proud to be American because I never had to. It was known. I am of Indian origin. I am brown-skinned with black hair. I speak Gujarati and English. I practice Jainism and Hinduism. I am American. And I am proud to be American. What makes this country beautiful is the fact that it is open to diverse cultures.
America is my country, too. Just like India is. In fact, this planet and this world are mine.
But what is causing this obvious division?
What separate us are invisible lines and boundaries. Man-made walls and fences. By people of power, politicians, police saying we are not allowed to be in a certain part of the world because it’s owned by someone else. By saying, sorry, bad luck, you were born in another country. Punished by a circumstance that wasn’t even in our control. By stating, no, you don’t have access to the various resources in the world. By screaming that you’re not a certain color or don’t speak a language that well.
But we are all the same. We are human beings, only diverse by color, religion, language. By trivial, unimportant details. But innately, we are the same. We are here on Planet Earth, with life in our body, surviving. That doesn’t change no matter what language we speak, what race we are, what culture we define ourselves as. Ultimately, innately, truly we are exactly the same.
Yet, here we are. Killing for territory that we claim to own. Letting kids starve in poorly-developed areas because we have to take care of people within our self-made territory first. Creating nuclear weapons. Unwilling to share medical insights or cures. Refusing to allow others in, even if they’re escaping war.
Where’s the sympathy? The empathy? The love?
If we all just aided in each other, we could all grow and develop together. And at a much faster pace. If we put our knowledge together and shared our insights we could have found a cure to cancer years ago saving millions of people. If we combined our efforts to explore space and other planets, we could have been traveling together to discover new, unfamiliar territory. If we cared for each other and expressed love instead of hate, we could have made each person, regardless of sex, race, culture, religion, language, feel loved. Truly and deeply loved. And that itself could create miracles on its own.
If we all realized that each one of us is exactly the same, we could flourish as a society.
I am proud to be both American and Indian. But, more than that, I am proud to be a citizen of the world.
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