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This is Why I'm Thankful to Be An American Today

As a TCK (third culture kid) growing up overseas, I used to be anti-American.  A lot of TCKs are. They see their childhood home overseas as perfect, and America as full of a bunch of shallow, materialistic, boring, couch potatoes.

Um, sorry about that.  I could make excuses for my teenage self, that it was all a part of finding my identity between two worlds, but really I was sometimes just an arrogant snob.

I've grown up a lot since then.  I don't see things in black and white; I know better than to idealize any particular culture or country or ethnicity.  All have beauty; all have been ruined; all can be redeemed.  I've also realized that I am much more American than I would like to admit.

And actually, living overseas as an adult has made me much more appreciative of America.  That's what I'm thinking about today, this very significant day in American history.

I'm thinking about Zimbabwe, where the 92-year-old Mugabe is planning on running for president again--in another sham election--in a country he has held (and destroyed) in his iron fist for 36 years.  

I am thankful I am from a country where I can have a strong degree of confidence that elections are fair and ethical, and where every citizen is allowed to vote.

I read about Gambia today, where the president is refusing to step down in spite of losing a fair election, and violence is imminent.  

I'm thankful I am from a country where despite the fact that the past administration and the new administration couldn't possibly be more different, that we can expect a peaceful transfer of power.  None of us are worried that Obama is going to change the Constitution so that he can retain power.  No one has given thought to a military coup taking over the country, which most recently was attempted in Burundi when the president insisted on running for a third term.

I'm thinking about South Sudan, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Uganda, and Ethiopia where journalists are in constant danger, and some have lost their lives.  

I am thankful I am from a country where journalists--and ordinary people--can vocally and aggressively speak, write, and publish their opposition to the government and not fear being arrested for it. 

I know there might be some of you out there who are protesting, But...but...but...!  Yes.  I know.  We have big problems, and some of them are huge.  Listen--I'm comparing America to the rest of the world.  We still have a lot of work to do.  But there is a reason we have an immigration problem in America:  Everyone wants what we have.  Those of us who do have it should be incredibly grateful.

I know that this is a weird day in America.  Some are rejoicing; some are despairing.  As for myself, I am neither.  I am bracing myself for the worst and hoping for the best.  Our president is neither Jesus nor the anti-Christ.  America, in all it's greatness, is just one more blip on the screen of history.  After all, God doesn't owe me the American Dream.  Maybe our country as we know it will last only a few more years, maybe hundreds.  For those of us who claim citizenship in heaven, that is not what's most important.

*All pictures are from the Epic Road Trip of 2013.  

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