Traverse City Record-Eagle

Generation Why

August 3, 2010

Pura Vida: No longer 'one nation, indivisible'

All the choices, all the wealth are dividing us

In today's society, everyone is entitled to his or her own choice. Yet, I believe it is the freedom of choice that is causing America to be a nation of separation.

All Americans are entitled to their own opinions, that everyone feels they must blatantly express, and having those opinions is what separates people from one another. America may be a nation of power and wealth, but what is wealth and power without happiness?

I recently traveled to Costa Rica on spring break and I found out Costa Rica is in fact a very poor country. It's nothing like America. Many houses are shacks and dogs run free in the streets.

I was so surprised, though, to find just how amazing of a place Costa Rica is to live.

People in Costa Rica are not caught up in money and politics. They may not have wealth in money, but they are some of the wealthiest people I have met. Their riches are the happiness I saw them sharing everywhere I went. The constant wishes of "Pura Vida" and the constant smiles and waves were overwhelming. "Pura Vida" literally translates into "Pure Life," but that is not what it means in Costa Rica. In Costa Rice, "Pura Vida" is an attitude of living life to its fullest and sharing happiness.

It isn't just words, it's a way of life. Everyone seemed to know everyone else everywhere I went.

I thought at first, perhaps, it was just the town I was staying in for the first part of my trip, yet as I traveled from town to town over the week, I realized everywhere I went it was the same thing. I couldn't figure out why everyone was so happy and so close to each other. I soon began to see there was no judgment held in the looks given from person to person. There was no jealousy or resentment in conversations and there was not any pompous exhibits of power either. I noticed that there were no fancy cars, no mansions, no fancy billboards or shopping malls. No one was in a hurry to make things difficult for one another and no one denied help to anyone else.

I was bewildered at how much I wished to be part of such a happy place. I realize that there must be some parts of Costa Rica that are not as great, but everywhere in the world is like that. Life comes with the goods and the bads. The difference between America and Costa Rica is the fact that Americans are so caught up in having their own choices and living as independent units that we are no longer "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Instead we are now just a group of people with no one to follow, absolutely divided by our own greed and status that escapes justice on a daily basis.

I fear that the rat race in which everyone in America is attempting to win is tearing us apart as a nation. If we continue in such a matter, where will all the happiness be?

Genevieve Preston graduated from Kingsley High School this year.

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