With the stress of the recent presidential election, the riots in several cities, and the chaos and confusion some Americans are feeling at this time of year, I hope that some can find peace in knowing that we are blessed in many ways, (ways we may have forgotten about). In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let us all put our political disagreements aside, and be thankful together for the freedoms and opportunities we are blessed with.
1. Religious Freedom
I can wear a cross necklace, say, "God bless you," to a kind stranger, and attend a Sunday morning service in peace because of our religious freedom. In many other countries, Christians are persecuted. Each month, 322 people are killed because of their Christianity. There are also 772 acts of violence acted out on Christians that are open about their faith. This includes rape, beatings, and abductions. Even though the United States of America is based on Christian principles, we Americans are allowed to worship and believe in any higher being or none at all, freely. This is something other people in some countries can only hope and dream about.
2. Access to clean water
The simple fact that we have access to clean water. Through the tap, in water fountains in public schools and offices, and bottled at local stores, clean water is easily within reach. In some countries, specific regions are surrounded by contaminated water and clean water sources are sparse. Water sources in India have been contaminated due to agricultural runoff and sewage. About 21% of the communicable diseases in India are related to contaminated water. Nearly one billion people on this earth do not have access to pure water. This also includes countries like Ethiopia and Cambodia. In Ethiopia, only 42% of the population has availability to clean water; In Cambodia, 84% of the population does not have access to clean water. Can you imagine waking up and not having access to a glass of water, or being so tempted to go drink dirty water just to quench your thirst? We Americans are truly blessed to have access to pure water. We take this for granted.
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God bless the person that helped establish the idea of free public education, Horace Mann. This guy made sure that future generations were to have access to free public education to help brighten young minds. We are fortunate to live in a country that encourages and requires all children to attend school. Not only boys, but girls, too. Approximately 130 million girls in this world are denied the opportunity to receive an education. Here in America, during our high school years, students are encouraged by their teachers to look at options for college. Educators see potential in children, and help nudge students in succeeding in future endeavors. In some regions of the world, school is a luxury and is very unheard of. We live in a country that believes in the value of education. A lot of children in the United States dread going to school and take it for granted. In other countries, children would love the opportunity to learn.
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Families that live in Iraq, Afganistan, Nigeria, and so many other countries, deal with terrorism daily. In these parts of the world, people live in fear, not knowing when a bomb may be dropped in their surroundings. In the year of 2015, 11,774 terrorist attacks occurred all over the world and a total of 28,328 fatalities resulted from acts of terrorism. Children in these parts of the world struggle going to sleep every night due to the chaos. The United States does have its fair share of crime. Some neighborhoods are safer than others, but most of us can go to sleep at night knowing we will wake up in the same atmosphere the next day. We have police officers to help establish law and emergency responders to help save lives when there is crime. We have troops that fight for our safety and freedom everyday... this is something to be so thankful for.
5. Freedom of speech
In North Korea, if you speak your mind negatively about the leadership of the country, you and your family may "disappear" and wind up in a political prison camp. In America, we can speak our minds and stand up for what we believe in. This is something people can be persecuted for in other parts of the world. Thanks to the First Amendment, Americans can speak without fear. Peaceful protests are just one example. Can you imagine living in a nation that punishes you for speaking from your heart and mind?
6. "The American Dream"
We are given the opportunity to make something out of ourselves here in America. You can be born into poverty, take advantage of the public education system, work hard, apply for scholarships, go to college, and become successful in whatever you aspire to be. This is the American Dream. We are given an opportunity to excel here, you just have to take it and work hard. I wish every American would take advantage of these opportunities. We do not realize how thankful we should be for them.
Whether you live in Sportsman's Paradise, near the Grand Canyon, in the Rocky Mountains, or on the coast of Florida, our country's beauty truly is a testament of the type of country we are. The United States has so much diversity in its geography... it truly makes us unique. Why leave the country to travel, when you can see beautiful sights on your own homeland?
The amount of culture that makes up our country is extremely diverse. We are known to be the land of immigrants. Every part of this country includes people with a different culture. We have so many different ethnicities in this country, it truly makes us a one of a kind nation. We can learn more from one another, embrace each other, and grow together, all while being so different from one another. It is a true blessing that people of different shades, colors, and cultures can all come together as one nation.
9. The right to vote
Not only are men able to vote - women are, too. This was not always a thing, so I hope this past election every registered person exercised their constitutional rights and voted for their desired candidate. Even if you disagree with the outcome, you can say that you let your voice be heard by casting a ballot. This is a freedom that lets all Americans have a say in who becomes our President.
I hope this Thanksgiving, we can all remember what we should be thankful for. We take for granted so many things that make us "The land of the free." Too many people have lost their lives and fought for our freedom for us to take it for granted. We have so many things available to us here in the United States, that so many other regions of the world may never have. Every now and then you should remember what makes us a great nation and truly be thankful you are an American. It really is a true blessing.