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Thanksgiving is a time to break bread with friends and family and express gratitude for life’s blessings. The holiday season provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on the good things that happened in the previous year. But this year, I want to challenge everyone to join me in finding gratitude even in trials.
When I was growing up, it would be easy for my family to give in to the feeling of hopelessness. My dad left when I was 7, and we had to move in with my grandparents, where my mom, brother and I shared a single room with a single bed. Our mother worked double shifts for days to provide for us. Based on data, history and experience, I was never meant to succeed in life.
But, I now know that my sad beginning was the greatest blessing of my life. Our misery became my motivation, and now I look back knowing that everything is possible because we live in this great country.
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Only in America could a black man, the grandson of a cotton magnate, be elected to a seat in the birthplace of the Civil War and win a Republican primary against the sons of two of South Carolina’s most powerful political dynasties. Given the opportunity, our great state takes the country forward in its journey of redemption.
I share my cotton stories to Congress mostly to help people understand me and my family’s story. It’s not really about us. It’s about the miracle of America. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: America is the solution, not the problem.
Today, I worry that we have forgotten that eternal truth. According to a Gallup poll released a month ago, less than half of our nation believes the next generation will have a better future than their parents. At 57%, the percentage of Americans who feel pessimistic about our country’s future is the worst since the question was first polled 27 years ago.
I get it. As a country we are facing challenges that are testing our resilience. Be it economic recession, the toxic politics of division, or uncertainty about our place in the world – people are tired of constant crises. On the other hand, we find ourselves in a crisis of confidence that represents one of the greatest threats to our future success.
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Faith in the future gives us power in the present. We must have optimism, which means believing that the best is yet to come and showing people how we are getting there. If the American people have lost faith in the future, it means that current leaders are not showing a clear path.
We must reframe our personal history as well as our shared history through a new perspective. If we do, I believe we will have the radical awakening of faith in our nation that will be needed to power the next great American century. We need leaders with a servant heart for the people, a vision to see the promise of our future, and a warrior spirit to make the personal sacrifices necessary for that mission.
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In Galatians 6:9, Paul wrote, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Paul urged the church to have resilience and optimism be the twin pillars of their expression of faith. Not to allow the forces of division to break up the new church.
Likewise, we must never lose our faith in America. We must reject today’s false prophets who sow doubt that our country and her people are worth fighting for. We must decide today that we will be warriors for the future of our country and the founding principles upon which our nation was built: individual freedom, economic empowerment, and religious freedom. This is the way forward for a more hopeful and united American family.
Click here to read more from SEN. Tim Scott