This is one solemn Thanksgiving. Gov. Romney supporters are still hurting at their loss. Sandy's victims are just getting electricity back. We bizarrely lost a true iconic hero, Gen. David Petraeus. And it is dawning on all of us that every fiscal cliff option hurts. Amid all of this, our nation appears more divided after the election than ever before, with crazy secession petitions, name-calling and a lack of leadership to unite us.
So how can we take joy in our uniquely American Thanksgiving holiday? The answer is in perspective.
Our nation is currently experiencing hardship, but we have faced tougher challenges, when our sovereignty was threatened in wartime and results were uncertain. Not only have we survived bigger challenges, but we have gone on to prosper in bigger ways. Our free market system is one that, when left alone, helps alleviate economic depressions and is our only hope for recovery. Our current economic downfall has the potential to be reversed, and with compromise and open debate I’m convinced that it can happen.
The past four years have been an engaging battle of ideas and all of America benefited from the debate. Though they may disagree with the outcome of the election, all Americans should rejoice in the fact that they can express their views, both in public and at the polls.
We are a nation that supports free speech, and Americans should be grateful that individual choices are celebrated in this country. Republicans should be proud of their achievement to support their big ideas. But now it is time to move on and support our president, who won decisively. That doesn't mean stay quiet; it means be constructive and positive.
Now is the time for both sides to put aside their differences, celebrate the similarities and compromise on the big issues at hand. Even with the big looming problems we face, both Democrats and Republicans would agree that there's no better nation on earth in which to be born a citizen, because ours is a nation of opportunity.
Our mosaic of immigrants, our entrepreneurial culture and our willingness to challenge the status quo make all of us better off. Being positive and keeping perspective, especially as role models to our children, means cherishing our common American blessing of citizenship and making the tough decisions that will preserve it for future generations.
America has been able to give its citizens these opportunities because of its foundation, built upon the Constitution, which allows individuals the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our nation is one that champions economic freedom, personal responsibility and individual achievement.
In fact, out of 179 countries in the world, America is ranked in the top 10 in economic freedom. This means as Americans we have more prosperity and less poverty than other countries falling below our ranking. We should be thankful every day that our nation is one that celebrates the individual and their successes, rather than oppresses and quiets them.
On a more personal level, each of us has things to be thankful for in our lives, whether it is our family, our health or our success. Someday, the challenges before the nation will be footnotes in history books, and our ability to get past them will become a brochure for our success, our fellow citizens and our families.
We face many challenges, but in addressing them, especially on Thanksgiving, we must pause and appreciate how special it is just to be an American.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, and a NYT best-selling author.