Thankfulness, and Appreciating America

It was absolutely uplifting and refreshing to see a young man who emigrated to the United States give his perspective on the whole flag protest controversy. The young man’s name is Cyrus Kouandjio. He is a tackle who plays for the Buffalo Bills. Here is what he said, “my father still tells stories of running away from the violence, hiding out in the woods, his baby sister on his back. He lived in a far different world.” He said “I can’t kneel during the anthem, I don’t blame Colin Kaepernick for doing what he did. But for me, I have too much respect for a flag and anthem that represents freedom and liberty. I love this country,” he said. “Me myself, I’ll just tell you, I’m a Christian, and I feel like the forefathers of this country built this constitution around Christian values — Christian values like freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”  How’s that for a perspective based on gratitude?

Here is a young black man who understands and appreciates how blessed he is to live in this country. He understands that there is no other country in the history of the world that has afforded so much opportunity to so many of such diverse backgrounds. This young man feels the need to show gratitude to the country that has given him such a magnificent chance to be successful. He understands that success or happiness is not guaranteed, but that the pursuit of these endeavors is what’s guaranteed, and that he has as good a chance as anyone to achieve them. He feels no animus towards America because it is imperfect. He does not view the United States through the prism of any injustice committed in the past, but instead through the lens of what it has done to correct past mistakes, what it is today, and continues to striving to be.

People like Kaepernick and so many other Americans frown over slavery without appreciating that many worked diligently to abolish it, and that a civil war was fought over it. They complain about Jim Crow, but do not consider the civil rights acts, and desegregation that put Jim Crow in history’s garbage can to combat injustice. Any American who experiences prejudice in the workplace can go to his/her HR department to remedy the situation, or they can file a case with the Equal Opportunity Commission, and the case will surely be given priority. Members of the victim patrol only see the prejudice, and never appreciate that there are structures in place to combat it. They see injustice but not the fight to overcome it. Mr. Kouandjio has the outlook of many foreigners who come to this country truly knowing what hardship, and prejudice and injustice is. They recognize how blessed they are to live in America where racists are generally shunned, and many advocacy groups (private and government) always fight on behalf of the downtrodden.

This young man is a true role model. He has made a choice to not take on the posture of a victim. He has no desire to spit on our venerable traditions, nor to trample them under foot to prove a point. He understands that in life bad things sometimes happens, that prejudice, and injustice are facts of life. He does not have an impossible standard of perfection in order to appreciate the country he has adopted as his own. He has no unreasonable demand to see all injustice cease before he can be thankful for the many blessings that he does have. It is a beautiful thing to see this type of maturity in a young black man whose mind has not been polluted or poisoned by college professors who tell young people every day that America is an unjust land where black people, and certain other groups are at a major disadvantage simply because of who they are. The indicators suggest that Mr. Kouandjio has rejected that narrative, and he is thankful to be an American. Yes! Thankful. A mentality that many Americans will do well to embrace. Being thankful does not mean sticking ones head in the sand and denying that life is sometimes fraught with difficulties. It is simply a demonstrated and felt appreciation for the good things in one’s life, and even recognizes that in the bad there are also reasons to be grateful.

Paul the apostle, in a letter to one of the early churches wrote; “in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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