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INDEPENDENCE & FREEDOM

-PUJA DEVARASHETTY

 In our everyday life, to act without restraint is accompanied by an ailing connotation, but restraints are what brought upon chaos, to begin with. This year completes 244 years of independence in the United States as well as 73 years of independence in India but most people don’t feel very independent right now. Independence may mean freedom, but it doesn’t mean that citizens are allowed to act haphazardly. With cases on the rise in many countries including the United States and India, scientists are scurrying to find a vaccine. A process that normally takes years is pushed into the span of a mere few months with 18 vaccines approved globally in July to start human trials. While the professionals of our community put their most genuine effort into making this pandemic history, it’s important that we do our part as well and guarantee that we are not abusing our freedom.

Perspectives have an interesting way of shaping our thinking. From a plane, the entire grand canyon would look like it can fit between our fingertips, whereas standing over it makes the dessert paradise appear never-ending. Freedom is the same in many ways— it looks different through each pair of eyes.

The vision of a child is quite limited in reminiscence. As a child, my entire world was focused on myself, my toys, my parents, and my friends. Freedom, as a child, existed only to entertain me all day, every day. I never really wanted much more than that and though I was consciously living through the economic crisis of 2008, four-year-old me had no clue that she was living through a historic recession. The kids living through the COVID-19 pandemic won’t remember their day to day activities, say, memory researchers. Their consciousness will only remember big events and the bigger picture. Though it’s upsetting to say no to children, it’s in our best interest to prevent the increasingly contaminated situation from becoming detrimental by engaging them at home.

Freedom

My teenage experience, though it is rather short and greatly interrupted by this pervasive issue, has allowed me to understand the world quite unorthodoxically. Generation Z has the world at their fingertips unlike ever before— and we know it as well. One post, one comment, or one story can reach millions of people and change many lives. Our minds are fueled by the many things we come across on a day to day basis, and the most confounding of explanations can be disclosed with trivial effort. To the understanding of preceding generations, our freedom is boundless and our efforts to accomplish a better world are inconsiderate compared to the platform designed for us, but it must be understood that every teen has their own image world and the time it takes to cultivate cannot be hastened to fit a different timeline. Freedom to a teenager may have many variables. Choosing what one wants to do with their life is a significant decision that greatly influences the grand scheme of things. In the same fashion, our work-life balance, hobbies, and interests contribute to our sense of freedom as well. The effort being made by teens globally during this crisis is phenomenal, with thousands of millennials participating in active human trials, and many more working toward raising awareness of the impacts created by not following official health guidelines. Working toward a better future has become a common goal and we have our ancestor’s hard work to thank for it. This pandemic is not only affecting the lives of those contracting the disease, but also everyone around them.

During this hard time, the federal government has taken many measures including sending out stimulus checks and stopping H1-B visas to ensure that Americans do not lose their jobs to immigrants. The H1-B visa is given to highly skilled immigrants, largely in the technology sector. These jobs are mostly unoccupied by the American workforce, and therefore given to immigrants. A substantial portion of Indian immigrants travel to the United States on an H1-B Visa, hoping for a bettered life for their children. These parents work for years away from their home to receive a Greencard, but the wait time is so extensive that most wait for decades. In this process their children— unless born in the US— living with an H4-EAD Visa may age out, and become independent at the age of 21, requiring them to return to their home country regardless of their educational status. The country in which immigrants relocate to for an ameliorated future is inactive in caring for these workers who are essential to the nation’s economy, investing more than $12 billion dollars into US businesses yearly. Thousands of kids have aged out and many more will continue to face this problem if bill s386 is not passed guaranteeing fair per country capita in Green Card  distributions. Independence gave this country not only the freedom to act as they wish but also a principle to treat others fairly.

In addition to the H1-B immigration law, Trump administration has also given a directive to international students with an F1 Visa placing many in a deadlock situation. In an effort to pressure colleges to open up, the directive stated that international students would be stripped of their visas if their coursework was entirely online. Due to the pandemic, many universities are conducting all classes online, which violates the rule that international students must take at least one in-person class in order to maintain their visas. The recent directive has caused widespread confusion in fears of being forced to travel as well as forfeiting any degrees in the works. In addition to negatively affecting the lives of many international students, this directive also impacts the economy. According to The New York Times, Michigan’s Association of State Universities had thirty-three thousand international students who contributed $1.2 billion to the state’s economy in 2018 alone. The significant drive that these international students have on the economy will cause devastating after-effects for President Trump in the upcoming presidential elections.

In addition to protecting the rights of the people, the federal government also is obliged to care for its citizens by preventing the spread of COVID-19 but has not taken any action with the mentality that a lockdown would violate the nation’s constitutional rights. The threat of COVID-19 has existed since early January but the task force had not acknowledged it as a peril until March 11th— the day that the World Health Organization declared the predicament a pandemic. The minority acting without acknowledging the dangers of the virus is the cause for the hundreds of thousands of citizens struggling for their life. Though exercising your independence allows you to act as you wish, it must be understood that freedom is a privilege not meant to be misused as it is in this case.

While we wait for our lives to go back to normal, let’s do our part to ensure that our sticky situation doesn’t worsen while celebrating independence around the world this year. Who knows, maybe by this time next year we’ll have a vaccine and everything will go back to normal.


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