Another week has come to pass, and with that week has come a plethora of dismal headlines. While reflecting on the recent shooting at LAX, the looming consequences of the government shutdown and the NSA spying scandal, I realized that, for the most part, positivity is scarce in the news. As we begin to move closer to Thanksgiving, I offer readers three reasons we can be thankful for the current state of society in our country.
1. All Americans have basic human rights. We have the freedom to say what we want about anything we want; we cannot be persecuted for our beliefs. For example, North Koreans lack these rights and, additionally, only television and radio stations that the Communist government finds appropriate are allowed to broadcast. Chinese citizens can be imprisoned and tortured for commenting on anything that even implies an anti-government attitude on the Internet. In America, people don’t have to worry about being arrested for expressing our dislike of politicians or government structure, which I’m sure is a blessing for many.
Additionally, the U.S., unlike many other countries, offers freedom of religion. For example, Iran’s constitution declares Twelver Shiism, a restrictive form of Islam, the official religion, and although it says that citizens who practice other religions must be respected, this is a rarity. Those who practice Judaism, Christianity or other religions are often targeted by the government and eventually executed. In the U.S., however, people can practice any religion, from Christianity, to Islam, to anything as outlandish as Pastafarianism, which contributes to the plentiful diversity of the United States.
2. Marriage equality is steadily being accepted. This year, Delaware, California, Rhode Island and Minnesota joined the list of states that allow same-sex marriage, bringing the current count to 14 states, plus Washington, D.C. Additionally, New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii and Colorado all offer same-sex civil unions. While the idea of having only 18 states with any laws regarding same-sex couples may seem slightly disappointing, America as a whole is far more accepting of LGBTQ individuals than it has been in the past. A Gallup poll from May indicates that 59 percent of Americans are accepting of homosexual relationships, up 19 points from 10 years prior. Progress is progress, and here’s hoping that we continue to advance as a society.
3. We have men and women that are willing to join the military and fight overseas. These people risk their lives, relationships and well-being to protect our nation. They ensure the security of our country and I cannot possibly imagine putting myself in their situation. They are the best of the best and I continue to hope that soon, they can return home to their loved ones.
All in all, it is easy to focus on all of the negative aspects of the current state of the government. However, I think we should all take a moment to remember that we are truly fortunate as a society. We are allowed freedoms unthinkable to those in many other countries, and we are blessed to have individuals who go and fight to protect those freedoms. This year, I know why I’m thankful to be an American. Do you?