I am so grateful to live in the United States of America.
I am grateful that, unlike in Syria, where my parents were born, there was a peaceful transfer of power last week. I do not have to flee this country because my house and church and entire city are being burned down.
I am grateful that, unlike in Kuwait, where I was born, I was able to marry the man of my choice (God’s choosing, really) without my father’s permission, though he did grant us his blessing – eventually. Kuwaiti law prevents a woman from marrying a partner of her choice without her father’s permission.
I am grateful that, unlike in Yemen and Liberia and countless other countries, my clitoris and labia were not cut off when I was a baby girl.
I am grateful that, unlike in Afghanistan and countless other countries, I do not have to walk five paces behind my husband or any other man.
I am grateful that, unlike in Somalia and Saudi Arabia and countless other countries, I do not have to wear a niqab.
I am grateful that, unlike in India, my husband didn’t display our bedsheet the morning after our wedding night to prove my virginity.
I am grateful that, unlike in Indonesia, I was not subjected to a mandatory annual virginity test at my high school.
I am grateful that, unlike in Pakistan and Turkey, I was not “honor” killed by my father and male cousins when I was caught kissing a boy.
I am grateful for the brave men and women of this country, and their families, who sacrifice their lives daily in our military so that I can walk into Starbucks and get my five-pump chai latte every day.
Is our country perfect? No. Are there countless ways we can improve our systems? Yes.
But I, for one, am so very grateful to live in a country where I could get a job and work hard to pay for my college education; where I could apply my knowledge in a number of fields before choosing to stay home to raise my children; where I can drive; where I can go to the store without permission; where I can wear whatever I want; where I can believe whatever I want; where I can worship whomever I want; where I can read whatever book or magazine I want; where I can write whatever I want on social media; where I can walk and eat and breathe however I want.
I am so grateful for this country. God bless America.
Silva Emerian is from Boston but has been a California girl since 2001. With a long and varied background in fashion, she is a freelance writer and editor, wife and mother to two active boys. She lives in Clovis, where shoes and chocolate make her world go ’round. Connect with her at her blog On My Shoebox (onmyshoebox.com), on Facebook and Instagram @onmyshoebox.