Monday, July 4, 2011

Blessed To Be American

People have been lining up to try to come to America since 1776. During the past 235 years America has changed and I believe mostly for the best. Change is a slow process and America continues to evolve and work to find ways to make life better for all of us. People continue to line up at our embassies around the world hoping and praying for a chance to "win the lottery" and be able to come here. Refugees come here somewhat unwillingly to begin to make a new life for their families. We are becoming more diverse every year and there are some experts who believe people of white European decent will no longer be in the majority in the future. Some people have concerns about our increasing diversity but I see it as an asset. By learning about all of the different culutures in this country, we are able to become a better and more diverse America. We are able to learn from each other, enjoy new and different foods, music and lifestyles and learn how to be more accepting and tolerant as a result.

Here are some of the other wonderful blessings we have and should be thankful for.

1) Plenty of food. Yes there are people who are hungry in this country. I have worked with many food insecure families in the past few months but the truth is food is available for most of us. Those who are food insecure are able to visit food pantries and free community meals as well as receive food from the governmen. We have private and government programs to help people who don't have a way to find food. Not all countries have these programs.

2) Free education. My children will go to school for free. I don't have to worry about finding a school uniform so my children can attend. I don't have to worry about paying high private school tuitions if I don't want to. I get the luxury of spending way too much time worrying about which public or private school to send my children to not if they will be able to attend.

3) A great higher education system. I realize some people have trouble paying for college and it's very important that higher education remain affordable for Americans. Yet we also have a college system that allows most people to attend even if it means borrowing money. I recently spoke to a young woman who had the grades but not the test scores to attend college. She was able to enroll in a public university where she is taking college courses this summer as a "bridge program" to help her prepare for college in the fall. As long as she passes the classes they have asked her to take this summer she will be able to attend college in the fall. There are grant and loan programs to help people pay for college. There are many different colleges to choose from and people can pursue any degree their talent and interst is in.

4) Health care. No matter where you stand on the public health care issue, we are all blessed to live in a country where health care is easy to obtain. Anyone can show up in an emergency room and receive care. For those of us lucky enough to have health insurance or wealthy enough to pay for it, we have great health care availble. Vaccines are routinely given out and it is rare to find a child who has not been immunized. We have enough doctors and clinics to care for all of our sick and injured.

5) Clean water.

6) Paved highways and roads.

7) Electricity

8) The ability to pursue our dreams, decide we no longer have the same dreams, return to school or move and pursue new dreams.

9) Travel freely throughout the country to visit family and friends without stopping at government check points or having to explain where we are going and why.

10) State and national parks that we can enjoy for cheap or free.

There are many more blessings than just the ones I have listed here. Everyone has there favorite activities. Just remember none of these things came to us for free. Our soldiers lost their lives. Our citizens worked hard in the private and public sector. Our children have studied hard. Yes, we have a ways to go. We have a lot to work on. But we have a good start. Together we will contine to evolve and grow as individual communities and a country.

Politics in Wisconsin has shown us all how far we have to go. My hope is that the ugly policies of the recent months will soon be a thing of the past but until then it's important to remember that even with our current administration we are very blessed to live here. We need to continue to stand united and all work together to continue to make this country great for all of her people.

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