More mornings than not, I open my email inbox, and there it is: a forwarded email, sent by a friend, family or acquaintance, politically charged.
I receive emails on topics ranging from gun control, freedom of speech and constitutional rights, to healthcare reform, taxation and entitlement programs. Most are informative and sincere. Some are well-written and impressive. All are intended to persuade.
I like to think that I am an objective person. I typically read the forwarded email in its entirety and consider the intention of the writer as well as the intention of the person forwarding the material to me.
While I have my own strong opinions on the course of our current governing body in Washington, I am still a proud American.
While I believe that a dramatic shift in direction is in our political future, I still have faith in the American political process. While I am sometimes in agreement with the position of the writer on the topic at hand, the tone with which some of the authors choose to write is a concern to me.
With the new year upon us, I have been reflecting, as I am sure most of you have, on the things for which I am thankful.
Without hesitation, my immediate thoughts are of my faith, my wife, parents, brother, and other family and friends.
My thoughts continue on to my coworkers and the community of Tyler and East Texas.
Lastly, after lengthy discussions with family, I consider my thanks for being a citizen of this great country of ours. My thoughts keep straying back to the tone of the emails I mentioned above.
So what is it exactly, as an American, I am thankful for? What should I expect the authors of these emails to be thankful for? Am I only thankful to be an American because I feel obligated to be thankful? Is it because I was taught to be thankful?
Or is there some substance to a genuine appreciation for living in the country that I call home?
Well, I can tell you this. It did not take long for me to unwaveringly make my decision. Without exception, I am exceedingly grateful to call the United States of America my home. And, I will tell you why.
The beauty of our democracy is that whether we realize it or not, the power of our nation lies in the hands of the people. While we might not all agree with the decisions that are being made today in Washington, we all have the power to do something about the people making those decisions in the future. This power lies in our right to vote.
A wise man once told me, “The beauty of America is that every four years, without a single shot being fired, executive power is transferred from one person to another.”
This alone is enough to be thankful for. We see in the news far too often stories of war and revolution in other countries. For these people, this is their only option for changing the course of their country. They must sacrifice the lives of their family, friends and countrymen to enjoy the most basic of rights that we too often take for granted.
So, in thinking about the emails I receive, I look forward to the future in our great country. I pray that our constantly evolving communication and social media platforms will promote the sharing of factual information and objective discussion, and steer us away from the now overwhelming influence of national network media on public opinion.
I am sincerely hopeful that the authors of the various emails I receive are as thankful to live in our great country as I am, no matter their grievances.
Although we might not be happy with the decisions of our electoral majority in recent years, I have faith that as we grow and learn in our future, we will see things for what they are, and will awaken to exercise our voices and cast our votes to instigate real change for the betterment of our society.
I believe that in the future, we will be more than Republicans and Democrats, more than conservatives and liberals, more than the privileged and the entitled. I believe whole heartedly that we will once again, above all, be Americans.
Lee Trammell is a Tyler resident and is director of internal affairs for Feliciano Financial Group.