Here in America, we complain obsessively—almost compulsively. Ingratitude has ingrained itself into our psyche. We are grossly entitled, embarrassingly petty, and shockingly unappreciative.

There is, of course, a simple cure to our sickness: perspective, a dose of reality.

For one thing, we live in America, the freest nation in the history of the world. That in and of itself should silence the bleating and put all ingratitude to rest. Frankly, it should embarrass us. We ought to be ashamed at how our world all but ends every time the barista gets our order wrong when meanwhile, 25,000 people die from hunger every day. Over 800 million are suffering from malnourishment; nine million will starve to death just this year; but woe is me–my nine-dollar iced frappé came out too late.

Here in America, quips about “first-world problems” are more than just truisms; caviling marks our entire luxurious existence. As Abraham Lincoln would say, “intoxicated with unbroken success,” we can scarcely imagine anything more devastating than broken air conditioners in the summer or a “bad day” at work. At least we have homes. At least we have jobs. There are people in this world who would give almost anything to have either—and many of them are far happier than us. To them, to hear us complain would sound cacophonous and jarring. And probably pitiful. We are not unlike the curmudgeonly Oleson family, who has more than everyone in town yet is clearly less happy.

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Ultimately, I write this to address what I see as a serious decline in patriotism even among conservatives. Honest question: What is the point in being “America first” if we do not even love this country anymore?

Yes, America is far from perfect and heading in the wrong direction every day. But we do not know how good we have it. It pains me to hear us gripe incessantly and let slip that we are blessed just to live here. Just to live here. We cannot see how truly enviable our situation is. We ought to be on our knees thanking God Almighty—instead, we only seem to see the problem.

This does not discount that America is in serious trouble, plagued by many real problems that threaten to sink us. Such is our present reality, and I am not advocating for baseless optimism. Nevertheless, it behooves us to indulge a bit of perspective, to see that, often, we are simply being ungrateful.

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To those whose first thoughts concerning America consist of disgust or disappointment, I would ask: “Where else in the world would you go?” Sure, America is a mess, but so is all of the world.

No nation has ever been perfect; but America is exceptional—she’s been the exception to every norm of history in the best possible way. Her people enjoy anomalous freedom, stability, prosperity, technology, and an extraordinary heritage. If we cannot be grateful for any of that before diving into our ever-growing list of complaints, may I suggest that we have lost perspective?

The Founders of this nation regularly urged the people of America to be grateful and for good reason. Our history testifies openly that we have been extraordinarily blessed. “[I]t is the duty of all Nations,” said George Washington, “to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”

If America is going up in flames, the reason I fight to put out that fire is because I love her. Because I, for one, am grateful to God to live in the greatest country humanity has ever known.

Jakob Fay is a staff writer for the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance.

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