Sometimes words like birds lift our spirits. They come and go, words by the meter, birds at the feeder. As December arrives, with so much to do, it is worth Americans saying “Thank you.”
“For what?” you may ask. A year of political quarrels and mixed elections, Chinese and Russian escalations, disappointed expectations, high inflation, agitation? Well, yes, in a sense. The winter sun is closer to the horizon, casting shadows that obscure our blessings.
If disharmony and insecurity burden the heart, where do you start? What exactly do Americans have to say “thank you” for? Well, let me tell you.
Nowhere in the world is the right to define our destiny, be what we want, who we want, where we want, with whom we want, any day we want, for as long as we want – as great as in America.
Yes, we are stressed by domestic aggravation and envious foreign powers – but we are still America. If we can appreciate what we have and understand context, defending it gets easier.
At home, our economy is heavy with debt and post-COVID regret, but keep perspective. We are the world’s most powerful engine, leader in patents and Nobel Prizes. We redefine prosperity, from iPhones to drones, life-enhancing advances from medicine to transportation. That is us.
Our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) blows all others away, at $23 trillion. China is two, barely $17 trillion. Our GDP per capita is $66,289. China’s is $12,556.
Our military struggles with readiness, accountability, and wokeness, but it too outclasses the world. The annual defense budget tops $800 billion, with China’s $293 billion. We have 11 aircraft carriers, 68 nuclear submarines, 4,000 military aircraft, 900 attack helicopters, 6000 tanks, 113 warships, and 6000 nuclear weapons.
By contrast, China has two operational carriers, 200 nuclear weapons, less than 1500 combined fighters, bombers, and helicopters. While aim for dominance, but we have it.
All this is really secondary. America is not America on numbers, but on heart. We are not good because we are strong, but strong because we are good. We get pelted by round-the-clock news, riled by acts of depravity, but that is not how most Americans think, act, or are. They care.
Most Americans are aware freedom means responsibility, and civil rights mean civic duties. Nothing is “free,” even the COVID largess and loan forgiveness gimmicks cost. We are told to dismiss our commonality, adopt hostility, divide like amoebas. But do not buy that either.
Truth is we have more in common with each other than with anyone in the world, we Americans. We are different, not bound not by breed, creed, color, or exclusivity – but ideals, a novel notion. They keep us as one if we treat them with respect. They are all we need, have ever needed.
Most Americans pull in one direction, hundreds of millions bound by unblinking faith in a loving God, timeless Constitution, and shared resolution – that America is unique. We are neither an accident nor fiction, but a proven mover of all Mankind, built on risk and sacrifice.
Our standard of living – education, work, housing, medical care, savings – lead the world, even if critics prefer jousting to honoring our history. Why do you think the world tries to get here?
America is what progress looks like – always has been. The horse became train, car, plane, and rocket, each generation briefly thinking all this is inevitable, until learning it is not. The magic of America is “us,” millions of like-minded individuals, not government or media elites.
Yet here we are – this incredible nation of dreamers and doers, those who imagine things and make them happen, propelled by history’s invisible wind – not sure if we should be grateful.
Here is the incontrovertible truth. I have fallen asleep in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Laos, Colombia, Bolivia, India, former Soviet Union – all interesting. We are blessed to awake in America, call this nation our home, and rest our head each night in a place of peace and hope, no mortars, midnight knocks, or constant fear.
So, even on days when we are frustrated, sick, slow, low, irritable, achy, distracted, dismayed, discouraged, disappointed, or disjointed in thought, we are still luckier than most humans who have ever lived. We are blessed to live in America.
We easily forget what life might be, which slows our “thank you” for what we life is. While challenged to defend liberty, we are not oppressed by a theocratic, autocratic, communist, fascist, or nihilist government, not battling war’s misery and endless loss, not right now.
We awake in a place that most would risk everything to call home, everything. We have rights, opportunities, work if we want it, options if we pursue them. And we have a history – an empowering, hopeful, proven, exceptional, and unparalleled history.
It a lamp in the night, offering light if we appreciate it and turn it on the future. This why we stop to say, “Thank you,” or should as the year closes. This year was imperfect. It included pain, regret, mistakes, goals unmet, but that is not what matters.
What matters is that we breathe free air in the strongest, most prosperous, generous, unblinking nation in the world – defined by all of us and those who preceded us. That we have these freedoms is enough for “Thank you.”
Sometimes, it is just nice to breathe a bit easier – recalling in the hubbub that words like birds are real and lift our spirits. They come and go, words by the meter and birds at the feeder – but they matter. So, as we rocket into December, just remember to say, “Thank you.” I do.
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