Dankbar: Despite political gridlock, America has much to be thankful for

Hannah Dankbar

Partisanship has been a part of the legislative branch for a long time. When you have two political parties competing for control of each chamber, things are going to get intense, but the past few years it has been just obnoxious. One senator chose not to run for re-election because she did not see a change in partisanship coming in the short term. If you paid any attention to the health care debate in 2010, you know what I am talking about.

We are now at the point where Congress cannot get anything done. Even though they are criticized for their inability to work together, neither side is willing to take the first step towards compromise. As citizens we can, and maybe even should, demand better of our politicians. But as frustrating as this can be to watch, we need to take a minute and be thankful that our problems are not any worse.

The American Civil War is referred to the last war fought on American soil. That took place from 1861 to 1865. The attacks on Pearl Harbor and the World Trade Center have happened since then, but the United States has always pushed the war overseas. For U.S. citizens this is a blessing, but we need to realize that this does hurt other people in the world.

As Americans we expect this security, and we take it for granted. It is easy for us hear about the violence that is taking place on the other side of the world and keep moving on with our day business as usual. Maybe it’s because we know our government will keep us safe, or maybe we have been desensitized by the media. A lot of what the media shares is not positive. Open any newspaper and you will read about a lot of violence and conflict with no end in sight. Who knows why we take our safety for granted, but this holiday season take some time to be thankful for the security that our government provides for us.

The Middle East is in an uproar. South Sudan became a country just more than a year ago after a long and violent civil war. It is estimated there will be 700,000 refugees from Syria alone by the end of this year. There is estimated to be 42 million displaced people worldwide. 870 million people do not have enough to eat. The 2012 census estimates that there are 46.2 million impoverished Americans. If you turn on any (credible) news program it shouldn’t take you too long to realize how good we have it in the United States.

Take a moment to think about what it would actually be like to be one of those numbers.

Think about how hard it would be to live on $1 per day. No Caribou Coffee, no iPhone, no choice in what you are going to wear; you wouldn’t even have the chance to go to a university. You would be focusing on where your next meal is coming from and taking any work you could get.

That’s not exactly fun to think about, is it? Well, that is reality for part of the world’s population. Poverty at that level is here in the United States, we just choose not to see it. This holiday season take some time to look outside of your world and do something nice for somebody else.

As college students we have a high standard of living compared to many other people. We don’t live in a war-ravaged country. We should take the time to show our thankfulness for these things.

You don’t have to do anything major. All it takes is donating a few cans of food or maybe some old sweaters. There is an on-campus food pantry located in the Food Science Building. This month there are a couple of clothing drives happening on campus. Be sure to look for cardboard boxes set up in various buildings to put your donated clothes in.

Our country has our problems, but we should look at those problems and get some perspective. So, this holiday season count your blessings and realize not everybody is as lucky as you are.