America is heralded as the land of the free, but for many people who live here, what exactly makes us so free when compared to other countries isn’t always so obvious. While many Americans gripe about the limitations put on us by our government, there are actually a wealth of freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis without even realizing it. From what you wear to how you parent your kids, it’s time to stop taking these American freedoms for granted. And when you want to know more about the U.S.A, check out The 28 Most Enduring Myths in American History.
The Right to Name Your Baby Whatever You Want
Do you think Firecracker is the perfect name for your bundle of joy? Does Star Spangled Banner Jones have a nice ring to it? In America, you’re welcome to name your new addition virtually anything you can think of and face no repercussions other than enduring the occasional eye roll from other parents at the park. Think everyone has the same freedom? In countries like Germany, Japan, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, you’d have no such luck.
The Right to a Fair Trial
If you’re arrested for a crime in America, that doesn’t mean you should necessarily start preparing for your new life in prison. In the U.S., we’re guaranteed to the right a fair trial—or at least 12 relatively impartial jurors and a judge. In countries like South Africa, you’d just get the judge, but no jury to decide your fate.
The Freedom to Marry Whomever You Want
If you and your partner are two consenting adults of sound mind, you’re welcome to get married in the United States. It doesn’t matter if you’re straight, LGBTQ, one of you is 50 years older, one of you is broke and the other is rich; as long as you’re entering into the marriage willingly and are at least 18—or younger with your parents’ consent—you’re free to tie the knot. In countries like Italy, Japan, Switzerland, and Greece, you can enter into a civil union, but still can’t get married if you’re a same-sex couple. And if you want to make your relationship last forever, check out the 50 Best Marriage Tips of All Time.
The Freedom to Wear Whatever You Want
Want to wear a crop top on public transportation? Want to wear a mermaid tail everywhere you go? If you’re not violating any laws about public decency or wearing clothing intended to incite violence, you’re free to choose the clothes that look and feel good to you. In countries like North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Sudan, and France, wearing the wrong thing can be a punishable offense. And if you want to know what can get you in serious trouble, check out the 40 Craziest Small Town Laws in America.
The Right to Be Counted As an Equal
No matter your gender or race in the United States, you’re deemed an equal in the eyes of the government. This not only means that, with the exception of certain felons, you’re entitled to vote in elections, but it also means you can’t be legally be paid less for doing the same job (which is something that many countries in the world don’t even claim). While women in the United States still regularly find themselves making less money than comparable male counterparts, if an American woman discovers her employer is knowingly committing wage discrimination, she does have legal recourse.
The Right to an Education
While we often lament the public education system in America, it’s pretty amazing that every American can enjoy a free education until the age of 18. In many countries, families need their children to work to support them, and in many others, there are countless barriers to accessing an education, especially for women.
The Freedom to Drive
Feel like hitting the open road? If you’re an American old enough to own a license—and without a major history of accidents under your belt—you’re welcome to get behind the wheel and go where you please. Until recently, women in Saudi Arabia weren’t allowed to get behind the wheel. And the first group of licenses granted to women in the country were handed out to individuals who had already earned their licenses in other countries first.
Freedom to Show Off
Want to take a sexy selfie and post it online? If you’re a U.S. citizen, you won’t have to worry about the police knocking down your door for doing so. Unfortunately, in many other countries, like Qatar and Sudan, indecency laws may prevent you from doing the same.
Freedom of Religion
Regardless of which religion you belong to, you’re free to practice as you see fit in the United States as long as you’re not harming anyone else. The same goes for adopting the garb that goes along with it, whether that means wearing a cross or a burqa. The same can’t be said for countless other countries, however—even France has a ban on religious face covering.
The Freedom to End a Relationship or Marriage
It doesn’t matter if you’ve just gotten married in Vegas after a few too many shots or you’ve been in a 50-year marriage, you’re free to end your marriage when you see fit in the United States. In many other countries, like the Philippines and Malta, there are severe restrictions in place on who can get divorced and for what reason.
The Ability to Style Your Hair How You Want
Think you’d look better with an undercut or bouffant? Go for it. You’re welcome to style your hair as you see fit in the U.S. In Iran, meanwhile, you could get in some serious trouble for cuts like the mullet and fauxhawks.
The Freedom to Access Information
The internet has given us a wealth of information at our fingertips, and Americans get to enjoy more of it than virtually anyone else on earth. In addition to not having our internet access censored by the government, our usage is relatively unmonitored compared to other countries.
In China, on the other hand, you might not be able to access the websites of companies that compete with Chinese businesses or even browse Wikipedia. In Russia, local media outlets that criticize the government can be shut down.
The Freedom Against Unlawful Searches
If the police show up at your door in the United States without probable cause or a warrant, you’re well within your rights to show them the way out. Americans are entitled to a legitimate expectation of privacy in private dwellings and certain public places.
The Freedom Not to Enlist
While you may know plenty of people who were drafted back in the day, conscription is no longer required of United States citizens. You’re still free to join the service if you want, but nobody can force you to enlist.
The Freedom to Speak Your Own Language
Not a native English speaker? That theoretically shouldn’t be a problem in the United States. Since the U.S. has no official language, you’re welcome to speak your native tongue as you see fit.
The Freedom to Travel
The United States is a big place, but luckily for those who live in it, all you have to do is hit the road to see all of it, thanks to Americans’ ability to travel throughout the states without a visa or documentation.
The Right to Vote
Want to see political change happen? You’re welcome to do so in the United States. With few exceptions, every adult in America is entitled to his or her vote. In contrast, in the Vatican, women have no voting rights, and women in Saudi Arabia, women were only given the right to vote in 2015.
The Ability to Chew Gum
If you’re eager to freshen up after a meal, feel free to pop a stick of gum—if you’re in the United States, that is. In Singapore, with the exception of nicotine gum or forms of therapeutic chewing products, gum is banned.
The Freedom to Own Property
Owning a home is part of the American Dream. And it’s a freedom you can’t enjoy in the same way in many other places. In many countries around the world, including Nigeria, where the government technically owns all of the country’s land, private land ownership is a more complicated issue than simply hiring a real estate agent and saving for a down payment.
The Freedom to Start a Business
America is known as the Land of Opportunity, and it’s easy to see why, considering how easy it is for the entrepreneurially-minded to get a business off the ground here. With relatively few barriers to entry and incredible resources available, the United States makes it amazingly easy to start a business.
The Freedom to Fight Back
If you’re being physically attacked in the United States, you’ve got every right to defend yourself. However, that’s not the case in many parts of the world. In countries from Armenia to Mali, committing domestic violence isn’t even necessarily a criminal act, and in many others, victims of assault are the ones arrested.
The Freedom to Go Outside Alone
Feel like heading outside for some fresh air or want to take a walk to the store? Not a problem if you’re in the United States. No matter your gender, you’re welcome to spend as much time in public as you please without being accompanied by a man if you’re on U.S. soil.
However, in many places in Saudi Arabia, women are discouraged—if not banned—from going certain places without male company. In many other countries, it’s tacitly understood that women are not to travel alone.
The Freedom to Get Around if You’re Disabled
Countries around the world are making attempts to expand accessibility for individuals with disabilities, but America is leading the charge.
Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, not only is it illegal to discriminate against individuals with disabilities, but it also means that everything from public transportation to new construction needs to be created with the needs of the disabled in mind. And if you want to discover some of the wilder laws out there, check out the 47 Weirdest Laws from Around the World.
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