As another Thanksgiving season is upon us, however contentious we have become in our nation of differing factions, ideas and ideals, and skirmishing viewpoints, it behooves us to pause and acknowledge how singularly we are blessed as a nation and a people.
Problems we have, yes, be they economic, political, dogmatic — on every hand they assail us: the exponentially-proliferating voices from TV, radio, print, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and the myriad of others clamoring for attention, enumerating all the things that are wrong with our nation.
But how often these days do we hear all the things that are good in this country, the freedoms and advantages we have that are inconceivable to the millions around the world who live lives of desperation, poverty, starvation, persecution, repression, limited education, disease/health problems, and on and on?
As we gather with family and friends, in warm, comfortable homes with hot water, cozy beds, big screen TVs/computers/electronic doodads galore, with daily routines uninterrupted by bombs, machinegun fire, friends and neighbors being dragged away in the night, or worse, being slaughtered by despotic rulers, will we pause to think of the millions who endure such horrors on a daily basis?
When we sit down to tables groaning with food, following a season of bountiful crops, can we remember for a moment those for whom food and water are a daily challenge, those emaciated from hunger, children who face blindness and/or death because their governments won’t allow them access to rice varieties that could prevent it?
We — all of us in this country, rich, poor, or in-between — can offer our thanks that our children and grandchildren have never known such deprivation, fear, and hardship. And we fervently hope they never will.
More than ever, we are aware of those who would destroy us, force their will and beliefs on the rest of the world, tear down all that has been built here over the generations since that long-ago first Thanksgiving.
But while we condemn them and their goals, we should not lose sight of the millions of fathers, mothers, grandparents in those strife-ridden countries who are not terrorists, who want nothing more than the universal desires: to go about their day-to-day lives free from war, fear, and persecution, and to see their children and grandchildren grow up and, hopefully, have better lives than they.
In an America increasingly characterized by acrimony and divisiveness, we — each and every one — should stop and acknowledge how much we, working together as one people, have accomplished in the almost-400 years since the Pilgrim gathering, and how very, very much we have to be thankful for as citizens of this great country.