11/21/2012 06:03 pm ET Updated Jan 21, 2013

Thank You, America

As we approach Thanksgiving, I would like to sincerely thank our president, our nation, and my fellow Americans with whom I share not only a nationality, but also strong democratic convictions and commitments.

Leadership is often a thankless job, particularly political leadership. For this reason, I would like to thank all of our political leaders, including those whose ideals diverge from mine. I learn a lot about myself and our world from them, and for this I am grateful. I would specifically like to acknowledge our president for leading our nation through these difficult times. I appreciate the daily sacrifices he makes and the difficult decisions he faces. Despite the criticism that is frequently and often unfairly directed toward him and his colleagues, he continues to lead our nation with class and courage. While I may not agree with everything that he does, the logic that is guiding his choices, or the outcomes of his decisions, I also know that he is doing a much better job than most others would given the circumstances, including me. I am grateful for his gall, his wit, and his devotion, and for his willingness to share these unique and special characteristics with our country and our world. We are proud of you, President Obama. We value you, and we are fortunate to have you as our leader.

I am also grateful for our nation, the United States of America, and for having access to all of the privileges of being a citizen. While our journey to democracy has been and continues to be riddled with marginalization and aggression, this journey has revealed another kind of power: that of political engagement. I appreciate the dialogue, debate, deliberations, and decisions that have shaped and continue to influence our nation. America is always there for me, for all of us, extending an open invitation for participation in conversations and actions -- even when we have neglected the responsibilities of citizenship, even when we are the dissenting voice. America is like a good friend that offers us unconditional love and forgiveness while responding to our grievances in the best way she can.

Finally, I am thankful for my fellow American citizens and residents and for their propensity to care about our communities and our country. We may live in an individualistic culture, but I think most of us appreciate the value of nurturing our collective interests. I am grateful to you for engaging, questioning, and contesting our political system when it would be so much easier to express detachment or disinterest.

I could have chosen to write about many things for which I am grateful. I am in reasonably good health. I am surrounded by friends and family that I love very much. I am on an exceptionally interesting career path. I have had many opportunities for growth throughout the past year. Yet, it seems that much of this would not be possible without my country by my side. This is the first reason that I chose to write a patriotic post to celebrate Thanksgiving.

The second reason is that I too often take my citizenship for granted, I am sometimes quick to criticize our political leaders for their faults, and I do not always think to lift up the contributions of other engaged citizens. In sum, this makes me a somewhat lethargic and lazy American and for this I feel ashamed.

I aim to take little for granted in my life. I frequently express gratitude either interpersonally or through prayer and meditation. Thankfulness is woven into my values, my character, and my everyday thoughts and actions. Typically, my gratitude is focused on those things, people, ideas, and places that are immediately accessible to me. I forget to also express appreciation for things like my citizenship; yet, it is an integral part of who I am and what I am able to do with my life.

So I thank you, America, for being my home. And I thank all of our leaders, citizens, and residents for making our home so warm and inviting.