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Divided States of America

Annabelle Day

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The NFL taking a knee during the national anthem in protest to a comment President Trump made is yet another issue added to the long list of things that divide this country. It seems that the United States of America is struggling to be united. I used to not be all that concerned about it, but after this last summer, my perspective has changed.
I had the opportunity to represent the state of Idaho when I traveled to Washington D.C. for a week in June to attend the Al Neuharth Free Spirit Journalism Conference. This conference allowed students in the summer before their Senior year to learn more about journalism as a career and as a passion. Pulitzer Prize Winners and nationally recognized journalists spoke on how journalism was changing and what they had done to succeed.
For me, the sessions and lessons were not as important as what I learned from the experience and what no one could teach.
First, the United States of America is way more diverse than what we think. Sure, we all say it to each other, and it is mentioned, but we often fail to see that there is more to it than just two sides. Throughout the week, I learned of the different struggles of each state, like extreme racism or statewide bankruptcy, as well as the largely varying political views. We also talked about the smaller things, like common state stereotypes and whether it is called soda or pop.
Second, I learned that, despite our diversity, we are one. I know, it’s cheesy, but it is honestly true. A liberal Atheist who saw damage from the agricultural industry got along with the conservative Christian who had grown up on a farm because we were still Americans and we could have a civil conversation: truly listening to the other side or politely disagreeing.
While I am sure that most of my fellow “free spirits” took away information about journalism, I have found myself dwelling more on our ability to get along and enjoy being together. As I hear of conflicts and disagreements and social media blows up in anger, I cannot help but think back to that week. It seemed so simple; we just had to be willing to look past the issues and to focus on the common goal.

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Divided States of America