One of the techniques I use to keep my depression at bay is purposeful gratitude. I write what I’m thankful for every night in my thankfulness journal. I’ve been doing this now for over five years and it really helps.
I’ve been slightly down lately about my country. It feels like it’s ripping apart from the inside and that hurts, because I love my country and I think we are one of the best countries in the world. I have been to many other countries, so I feel pretty safe making comparisons between us and them. So instead of bashing on America like so many are wont to do these days, I am going to be purposefully thankful for some of the things I like best about my country.
1. The Infrastructure
I think I am the most thankful for our infrastructure, which sounds like a weird thing to be thankful for, I know. But I drive on pretty good roads almost everyday. I get on Interstate and I thank God that we have such a good system of highways and byways. I’ve been in places where they don’t and travel is a hassle and a danger. I know it’s dangerous everywhere, including here, but we have it so much better than so much of the world. We live in a place where our internet is pretty crappy compared to just a mile away, but we have internet and electricity. I took a hot shower last night in water that was safe to drink. I am thankful for the planners and the builders and the government that made infrastructure such a priority. I think sometimes we forget how fortunate we are for just these basic blessings.
The thing about capitalism is that yes, it’s all about money and profit and the bottom line, but somehow those have a way of spilling over so that everyone benefits. It works even better when capitalism is coupled with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You get a businessman with a Christian moral compass and that good is spreading out so much entire communities can be transformed. Even billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates are raising the standards of living for thousands of people – millions if you count all the people using their products and technologies. Small business owners in my community are providing jobs for people that enable them to enjoy the benefits of capitalism that are all around us. I work for a non-profit and yesterday I got an email from a homeless woman seeking assistance. The non-profit I work for is more “slow long-term transformation” rather than “immediate assistance” so I was not able to help her directly, but I knew where to send her to get immediate assistance, so I did. But the fact that this woman who has no place to call home emailed me shows that even she is reaping the benefits of capitalism. I don’t know if she has a smart phone or if she was using the public computers at the library, but either way, she had access to technology that enabled her to get the help she needed. Capitalism has taken some blows lately but I think it’s ironic and telling that even those who are calling for it’s removal are still taking advantage of the blessings it provides.
3. President Donald Trump
I remember when I first heard about Donald Trump’s candidacy for president. I laughed. I thought it was a joke. But my dad said “no, he’s a businessman – he will treat the country like a business and it could be good.”
Now again, is he perfect? No. Are you? Well good, glad we’ve got it settled that no one is perfect. The thing I respect most about elected leaders is their willingness to do the job. I have seen firsthand that it is not easy. That no matter what you do or say someone is going to be mad at you. That oftentimes the choices and decisions you have to make as a leader are not black and white but all the shades of gray and there is no right or wrong answer. That you try to make the best decision you can with the information you have and sometimes that information is wrong. It’s a horrible, thankless job and I am thankful that there are people who are willing to put their country’s needs over their own needs enough to want to do it. With all the hate being screamed at him from all sides these days I’m sure that even he has moments when he doubts it is worth it. I’m so very thankful that he is not giving up, that he is fighting to stave off socialism (because seriously, looking at the facts and history, how can anyone believe that that system works?), and that he is putting America first, like the leader of a country should.
4. Racial Differences
I judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Do I see color? You bet. My major in college was intercultural studies both because God called me to do that and because I love learning about other cultures. I celebrate color and differences because they make us strong when we learn from each other. I have traveled to many places and at times have been the only white person in a company of other races, so I know the feeling of being in the minority. I have been ridiculed because of the color of my skin. I have not personally been singled out for police discrimination, but I have friends who have. I live in a predominately white part of the country, so here the issue isn’t so much black and white, but Native American and white. I am privileged to be working with the Native American community and to learn from them. It is both complex and fascinating. I’m excited about the opportunities we have to learn from different races and backgrounds. Racial differences should not be erased or discriminated against, but respected and treated as opportunities.
This is an easy one. We are so free here in the United States that we take it for granted. Sure, there’s the new “cancel culture” phenomenon sweeping our land, but it’s not mandated by the government, like China’s cancel culture, where dissent can get you permanently cancelled. I can say whatever I want to say about the president and he’s not going to send anyone after me (unless it’s a threat, which should be investigated). You can say anything you want to about me. I can travel between states without having to wait in line for hours at a border crossing. I can start a business, write whatever I want to, worship as I please, and a thousand other things without fear of reprisal or sanctions. That freedom is being attacked and threatened more and more these days, which is why it is so important to fight back and protect it. I am very grateful for all the American soldiers who fought to defend our freedom from the English empire, Imperial Germany, Nazi Germany, Communist Russia and China, and now it feels like it’s my turn to fight against socialism and cancel culture. I will fight for my freedom and yours. Our fight is not with guns or bullets, but with words and ideas. There is no declared war, but every day there is a battle to remain free.
What are you thankful for about America?