There’s something about having extra time to think that puts things in perspective. (And I can think of no better time to reevaluate our mindset.) It seems that Americans have caught an illness: we whine and complain instead of giving thanks and taking action. We complain about our government, our taxes, our economy and our nagging unemployment problem.
Ironically, with 10+ percent unemployed, that means most of the other 80-90 percent of Americans are employed! That’s better than many of the European countries are facing.
We regularly gripe about a host of other problems too. I think most Americans, compared to a lot of the world, are spoiled. Maybe we should look at the more positive side—what we do have.
We have the most prosperous nation on earth. Granted that the chasm between the “haves” and the “have-nots” has grown too large and must be addressed somehow, but countries across the southern tier of Europe are discovering that their leisurely, lackadaisical lifestyles are economically unsustainable. This is a situation from which we can learn by watching what happens. Many of the billions in China and India live in abject poverty too, in spite of those countries high economic growth rates.
In America, even the “have-nots” usually have warm, relatively safe and comfortable places to live, with enough nutritional food to eat (or food stamps to buy it with) and they have electricity, clean water to drink, sanitary sewers and decent roads on which to travel. Most people have radios and TV sets. More than ever also have cell phones. All but the very poorest have stoves and/or microwave ovens with which to cook. Even the “have-nots” usually have refrigerators and access to telephones; many even have Internet access—or can have—with the growing number of free Wi-Fi hot spots.
In America we can criticize our leaders openly without fear of retribution. We have freedom of speech that borders on excessive. We can assemble peaceably to voice our opinions and even demonstrate our passion for them. We can become agitated and write, e-mail or call our elected officials with our issues, or send letters to the editors of our media. In America, we can come and go as we please across the entire country without restriction and with little or no identification. If we are fortunate to have enough money, we can buy and own property and enjoy a remarkable range of other rights: privacy, protection under the law, right to a fair trial if arrested, the ability to vote and many, many others, too numerous to list here.
Everyone who is qualified can get the right to drive a car (a license). All Americans over the age of 18 have the right to vote, by simply proving that they are legally citizens of the USA, residing in the place where they want to vote. Americans have the right to bear arms (maybe too much so?), and to join countless types of clubs and organizations.
The bottom line for me after thinking about this is: Name a country in which you would rather live. Unless you are a rare exception, who has an affinity for some far off place, or some “glamorous” location, you can’t.
Perhaps this is why so many people want to come to America to live and work. They flow in from not only our southern neighbor Mexico (too often illegally), but from across the oceans, especially from the poorer Asian countries (Vietnam), or those where the population is so great the relative opportunities are not as great (China, India, etc.).
We already live in the best country in the world. Perhaps it has been better at times in the past, and God willing, we hope it will be better in the future. I think that is plenty to be thankful for and may just be enough to overshadow our complaints. What do you think?