Firstly, thanks to everyone who helped on previous drafts, I think this represents a major improvement over those iterations. Please let me know if you have any criticisms, or if this is approaching something close to an acceptable final draft? Thank again.
When I was younger, I would wake every Saturday morning at 7:00am to attend Chapel as part of our school routine. Later on at university, I elected to tutor high-school students on Saturday mornings instead of during week nights. Since then, however, only two things have been able to rouse me early on the weekend: good surf and political protests. On Saturday, 4th of February, 2017, I wiped the sleep out of my eye and walked out of the door. The sky was a particularly unpromising shade of gray that morning. The clouds were so low that any lower and they would have appeared as fog rolling through the London streets. After living in the city for more than a decade, I had learned to read the weather – today would be no day at the beach.
I turned back inside to retrieve my raincoat when the thought crossed my mind: “Bring your passport, just in case.” Sometimes I have an intuitive thought that comes with baggage that needs to be unpacked in order to make clearer sense of the idea. The conclusion may be there, but the rationale for the conclusion is still being formulated, as if my conscious mind is playing catch up with its unconscious self. Just in case...what, exactly? I was mulling it over as I bounded up the steps to my bedroom, rustled around in my backpack, and retrieved my passports. I seperated the American passport from the British one, tossing the latter back into my bag, and stood holding the U.S. document when the thought completed itself: “Bring your American passport, just in case you want to burn it.”
The underground in London is a loud and bumpy ride, but I find it a surprisingly good place to think things through. I started with the negatives of the proposed course of action. Potential costs could come in the form of time, money, and reputation, as well as legal repercussions. I used the wifi at one of the station stops to look up whether there were any relevant statutes. Destruction of Government Property (18 U.S.C. § 1361) seemed to be applicable, but I reasoned I was outside of U.S. jurisdiction, and the U.K. did not have any laws preventing destruction of a passport of another nationality. I also considered the divisive nature of the action, and how it could potentially be used for propaganda, before deciding this negative was outweighed by the positive optics it would have with the intended audiences.
Ironically, my third concern was how such an action could be perceived by an Admissions officer, if for whatever reason it ever came to light. Naivety, recklessness, and imprudence could be the potential charges levied against me, even if I did not get myself arrested. As with any high-stakes decision, the effects of which could potentially be negative and long-lasting, it was hard to avoid a nagging doubt. In timely fashion, I recalled the advice of one of my heros, Henry George, who gave these words of encouragement to those people who hope to aid in making live better and brighter, in destroying want and sin, sorrow and shame, “Toil in the advance, where it is cold, and there is little cheer from men, and the stones are sharp and the brambles thick. Amid the scoffs of the present and the sneers that stab like knives, build for the future; cut the trail that progressive humanity may hereafter broader into a highroad.” My nerves steadied, and I felt the unmistakable clarity of conviction that is the hallmark of a conclusion properly reached.
It started raining when I got to the U.S. Embassy, where the protest against the travel ban was scheduled to begin. Pressure had been growing on the President since his inauguration, with resistance against the ban increasing, from the stages of Hollywood, to the courtrooms of Hawaii. There were only several hundred people at the Embassy when I first arrived, but by the time the march reached Downing Street later that day, it was 100,000 strong. A lot of people thought as I did, namely that the ban was on travel in name, but on Muslims in practice; that the intent of the law, if not its lettering, offended the First Amendment and Equal Protections Clause of the Constitution; that there was no serious national security rationale to justify the policy; and that the policy would further alienate Muslims and the world from an America exercising a unilaterally aggressive and unapologetically misguided foreign policy. In this context, I thought the image of an American burning their passport in opposition to an un-American travel ban would convey to Muslims a message of solidarity, so that they knew there were Americans who would fight with them, rather than against them.
I love my country and the rights it has enshrined in the Constitution, and so did not take the decision to destroy a highly symbolic government document lightly. Before I started the lighter, my hands were shaking and I was visibly emotional, but I was able to compose myself in the few minutes that passed before anyone else noticed what was happening. Shortly thereafter, I was faced with a wall of cameras, and after a couple more minutes of letting the flame do its work, I dropped the passport, declined an interview (what was left to say?), and made a quick exit from the scene. I immediately felt physically sick with nervousness and tried to walk it off in a nearby park for a few hours. The next day, I saw that a video of the event had made the news and gone viral, enraging Trump supporters, but prompting a universally positive response from Muslims and others. My mother though was not best pleased when she heard what had happened.
I tell this story to illustrate a simple point: I have the will to fight. In fact, there is nothing I relish more in the world than a good fight, figuratively speaking. I view the law as the most effective means of advancing justice for all, and I am keen to learn anything that will make me more effective in promoting this end. Although my family has long advised me to apply to law school in the U.K., partly because my family is English, and partly because the cost of education is much less, I tell them that America is where the fight is, and so that is where I am going.
(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
3 posts • Page 1 of 1
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I think you can condense the first two paragraphs. Having read your other draft, I knew where it was headed but it still felt a little too prolonged. I do like the fact that you go over your thought process, it definitely makes you look more rational and human, and the back-and-forth with yourself is, if nothing else, entertaining. I don't know if I commented on your previous posts, but this is an improvement. I do think there's some more cleaning up to do, and I'll leave that to you, but the way you portray the event is better. You don't seem as self-righteous and naive as before, and I think that was the most important thing to fix.
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