During the 2012 presidential campaign, both major parties competed to see who could paint the most negative picture of this country’s economy, society and future. This gave them a chance to blame their political enemies for the sorry state of affairs and show how their candidate was the only one who could pull us back from the brink of disaster. After months and months of hearing how terrible things are in the United States, the election is finally over, the world didn’t end on December 21 as predicted, and we can now face the future. I’d like to propose that we face it with hope, and with gratefulness for all the blessings we enjoy.
Let’s put aside all the negativity and pessimism, and give thanks for all the things that are right about this country. Yes, the United States has many problems that should concern us – everything from the national debt crisis, to the shaky state of affairs in the Middle East, to social ills like poverty and crime. I’m not suggesting we ignore these issues. However, while we’re working together to solve them, let’s take some time to appreciate the good things we have. Here are just a few that come to mind:
First and foremost, we need to thank God every day for the U.S. Constitution, especially for the Bill of Rights, which guarantees freedom of the press, of religion, of assembly, and so many more freedoms that we take for granted, but that most people in the world can only imagine. We can protest government action without fear of being arrested, we can say or print what we think even it’s against official policy, and we don’t have to worry about being arrested for belonging to the “wrong” church or violating a religious edict.
In much of the world today, people struggle just to stay alive. They may not have access to decent water, medical or dental care, or a reliable source of electricity. About 50 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day, and 80 percent live on less than $10 a day. Diseases like malaria and tuberculosis kill hundreds of thousands of people, in addition to those who die from malnutrition and untreated infections. No matter what happens with our welfare system or with Obamacare, Americans are still wealthier and healthier than most of our fellow humans.
Although we have soldiers and sailors stationed in war zones, here in the United States we live in peace. Unlike civilians in Syria, Israel, Afghanistan, and many places in Africa, we don’t fear rockets falling from the sky to destroy our homes. Armed gangs don’t come into our neighborhoods with machetes to kill our men, rape our women and burn down all the houses. Yet, this is “normal life” for citizens in many areas of the world.
Immigrants come from all over the world to live in the United States because we offer a chance for everyone, no matter how humble their circumstances, to rise to the top. In many countries, a class or caste system regulates the kind of education you’ll receive, the people you may associate with, and the occupation you’re allowed to pursue. More than 80 percent of American millionaires made their fortunes instead of inheriting them, and more than 50 percent on the Forbes 400 list got there through their own efforts. We may not all become millionaires, but we all have the opportunity to reach for the top.
As we begin the New Year, let’s give thanks that we live in the greatest country on earth. Despite its problems and its flaws, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.