In a week, most Americans will be sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner. I personally will be eating my weight in turkey and pumpkin pie before I collapse on the couch and watch football for the remainder of the holiday. My day is almost entirely spent eating, watching television, or planning my annual Black Friday adventure (starting at 10 pm on Thanksgiving night of course). To be honest, I rarely spend more than 5-10 minutes actually reflecting on what I’m actually thankful for. Perhaps I all too often miss the entire point of the holiday.

I can see how many conservatives might feel that we have little to be thankful for this year. This sting from a lost election has barely faded and the thought of another 4 years of the Obama administration is downright frightening. However, even when things seem dark, there is still time to be grateful. There are always silver linings to even the darkest of clouds.

First off, if you’re reading this I can only assume that you have access to internet. This puts us in the 25% of people globally who have access to computers and the internet. Five billion people in the world don’t have that luxury. Compare that to the statistics in the United States. In 74.2% of households, at least one person had access to the internet, let alone access to bountiful food and clean water. Seven hundred and eighty million people globally do not have access to clean drinking water and 33% of the world’s population is considered “starving.” So while you’re checking your fantasy football team and fighting with your siblings over the last slice of pumpkin pie, take a second to be grateful that there are millions of people who do not have such an opportunity.

Furthermore, the fact that I’m writing this post is something of which I am grateful. We live in a nation where free speech, at least for now, is embedded in our founding documents. I can say honestly that I am a conservative, a registered Republican, and a Christian without fear for my safety. I can walk to my window right now, yell at the people walking outside that I did not vote for Barack Obama, and I will still have nothing to worry about (except a few annoyed tenants of course). Freedom of speech may be under attack in this country (see: the jailed director of “The Innocence of Muslims”), but it’s still here. Our laws regarding freedom of speech are much more broad than those in other countries. For example, even in the UK, where a student was imprisoned for racially offensive tweets, freedom of speech is far more narrow. Along the same lines, freedom of religion is alive in the United States. Around the world, 200 million Christians are denied basic rights (which we often take for granted) simply because of their faith. Can you imagine being legitimately fearful for your life or safety simply because you go to church on Sunday? I’m grateful that I live in a nation where that truly is not a problem.

In no way am I advocating any specific policy proposals. Nor am I trying to make a political point. Yet, I think it’s important that we take time on Thanksgiving, and every day, to reflect upon how blessed we are to live in this nation. We were all born with silver spoons in our mouths simply because we are all Americans. We’re part of a tradition of individuals who are blessed with good fortune and the opportunity to live in a nation where the American Dream is possible for all who believe in it. My admiration for this nation is one of the reasons I fight so hard to protect her. I’m deeply grateful for the blessings I’ve received. I want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be so blessed for generations to come.

Amy Lutz | St. Louis University | @AmyLutz4