In Rights of Man, Thomas Paine extols America for its unique attributes of harmony, freedom, liberty, and diversity. These attributes intertwine together and serve as a recipe for one unified country based on privileges and rights for all Americans. Paine’s image of America was slightly skewed in the late 18th century, but holds true especially in today’s day and age. Over the past two centuries, change and reform have transformed the nation into one which provides equality to all regardless of color, sex, or background.
Slowly but surely, citizens have fought for and won freedoms which define this country. I believe that Paine’s portrayal of America wasn’t right then, but it is now. After countless struggles, Americans have been able to expose the equal principles of society which Paine admires. In the past, African Americans have had to endure many hardships because of the color of their skin. One might ask, “Why did the Blacks have to sit on the back of the bus and attend different schools than Whites did?
Aren’t all Americans equal? As recently as sixty years ago, that wasn’t the case. Frustrated and fed up with the discrimination of African Americans, Martin Luther King Jr. led the Civil Rights Movement to quell the racial prejudice that encompassed America. Civil Rights activists kept rallying because they felt American citizen deserves to be treated fairly and to have as equal of an opportunity as any other person regardless of their background; The “Rights of Man. ” Just as Paine advocated the “cordial unison” of America, African Americans advocated the integration of blacks and whites.
Now, they finally have what they’ve been fighting for: equality for all people, whether they are white, black, brown, or yellow. In today’s world, African American history has been made with the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Since George Washington, there has never been an African American president, let alone the possibility of one. American society has truly blossomed into a nation where anything is possible, no matter where you come from or who you are.
Similarly, women haven’t always had equal opportunities or respect in relation to men as they do now. Dating back to the 1950’s, help wanted signs were separated by gender. If a woman was able to get a job, she couldn’t fulfill her aspirations because she was confined to the stereotypical teacher, secretary, and maid job opportunity. Fed up with the unequal job distribution, Betty Friedan organized the National Organization of Women (NOW) in 1966. She sought to bring about social and political change for American women and to provide them with the careers they had strived to obtain.
Thanks to the hard work of Friedan and the organization, I along with women all over the country today am able to pursue the job of my dreams without being restricted by the government or company owners. Prior to the Women’s Rights Movement and organizations like NOW, it seemed as if a “union of such [different] people was impracticable. ” (Paine) But after women in America fought for their well deserved rights, our nation is one of unity and equality in regards to gender. Paine believed in America because of its potential to live together as one nation, and after reforms have been made, our country today is one of accord.
In the present, we as a nation have rightfully achieved all of our first amendment rights: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of petition, and freedom of assembly. The rights of man, Paine argues, are the magnet which attracts people from “different nations, accustomed to different forms of government…and speaking different languages” together to form one harmonious country. Any citizen, no matter what color, religion, or background, is entitled to the human rights documented in the United States Constitution.
However, not every country thrives on the same freedoms as America does. North Koreans have restrictions as to what faith they practice, what they are allowed to say, and even what they can watch on television. Government agencies monitor the borders of North Korea because no one is allowed to leave and very few are allowed to enter. Communist practices such as the later prevent the citizens of North Korea to have any “rights of man. ” Law-breakers are subject to harsh Draconian punishments if they even attempted to achieve a shred of freedom that is so commonplace in America.
There are no people from different nations in North Korea. There are no different forms of government. There are no different languages. There are no different modes of worship. There is only one unfair, unjust, and unstoppable government where millions suffer from the strict laws that are bereft of freedoms and human rights. America thrives on the freedoms and human rights which allow its citizens to live together in “cordial unison. ” (Paine) Paine’s depiction of America is accurate here and now, but it took time and effort from citizens who believed the nation needed to be improved upon.
The USA wasn’t always as united as it seemed to be when it was first created. Throughout American history, advocates of human rights have made the nation as autonomous as it is today, whether it was the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement, or simply someone who believed in equal liberties. The United States is fair, it is just, and it is equal. A difference in color, race, or language do not widen the gap between each American individual; It draws us all closer together because we can learn from each other and work together.