I grew up a poor white boy.
I grew up in a constant state of fear.
I grew up in the shadow of terrorism, the world trade center bombing, 911.
I grew up in a state of war, brought on by a fabricated justification.
I grew up with a conservative government full of rich white men.
I grew up in a country where votes were bought, where the common man had the mere illusion of power.
I grew up in a society run by by the rich, by the CFOs and the CEOs, and the bankers on Wall Street.
I grew up in a society where my choice of representatives was between corporate puppets, or not voting at all.
I grew up in a society where a vote was for degrees of moderation, where progressive and liberal were evil words, even through they bring good things.
I grew up in a nation where my religion was my choice, and the government didn't take a stance against any one, but it supported the idea of the Christian God. A country where I am called unpatriotic for not pledging myself to an idol I don't believe in. I grew up being diminished and marginalized for my leftist beliefs in a bastion of conservatism.
I grew up watching everything I believed in being butchered by the hacks on Capitol Hill.
I grew up with Reaganomics.
I grew up with a nation of sheep, being led to the slaughter house by shiny toys and good looking white men.
I grew up in a society where they questioned, and refused to use proven life-saving medication people in Africa would, and literally do, die for.
I grew up in a world that was getting warmer and warmer, with ice caps melting, and sea levels rising. Yet, it was denied time and time and time again by the fossil fuel companies. By Big Oil and Shale and Natural Gas. By Exxon-Mobile and Shell and Chevron and British Petroleum. Because I grew up in a country thirsty, no addicted, to oil, politicians and scientists alike fell in line.
I grew up during a mass extinction, where polar bears and panda bears, where Smokey and Winnie where homeless, evicted by the immanent domain of the human race.
I grew up angry.
I grew up sad.
I grew up ashamed.
I also grew up curious.
I grew up hungry for knowledge, and in that, I was satisfied.
I grew up during a time of innovation, during a time of digitization.
I grew up with the personal computer and video games.
I grew up in a time where our knowledge of medicine was expanding more than it ever had in history. Where having HIV or AIDS was no longer a death sentence. Where cancer could be treated. A world where smallpox was gone, and where the iron lung was a distant memory.
I grew up in a period of exploration, where we could land on comets, and where we could drive our curiosity across the red planet.
I grew up in the most peaceful part of human history, during days when the Big Apple didn't have any person killing another.
I grew up in the new millennium, though I was born in the previous one.
I grew up in the land of the free, and the home of the brave, and despite all of their problems, I grew up loving my family, and my community, and my country.
That is how I grew up.