Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

November 27, 2013

WE THE PEOPLE: Take a moment to be thankful

By Mary deWolf
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Yay! It’s Thanksgiving week — one of the best weeks of the year. Great food, amazing sales, vacation days … But let’s all take a moment during the busy holiday activities to identify and appreciate the good things in our lives.

The official United States Thanksgiving holiday was proclaimed by President Lincoln 150 years ago this year. It was 1863. We all (especially opinion writers) can find things to grumble and complain about. Pain and uncertainty are never far from our doors. But if people could pause to find gratitude during one of the most brutal periods in our nation’s history, we can certainly find many reasons to be thankful to live in this time and place.

We can be grateful for equality and freedom. Women and minority citizens can vote. Free access to a variety of information sources, unregulated by a totalitarian regime, is a gift. We are allowed to openly (and responsibly?) express our opinions. We enjoy a mostly civil society in which we can work, live and play without threat of violence. We can make our own spiritual choices.

All children, regardless of gender or color, have access to public schools without the fear of dogs or guns. Thanks to progressive reforms there are safety nets for our more vulnerable citizens — the disabled, the elderly and children. Child labor has been eliminated. Workers are protected, to some degree, by a guaranteed minimum wage. The unemployed receive help. We’ve become more accepting of varying lifestyle choices.

We can appreciate citizens who are willing to work in tough jobs. Our military forces, first responders, health care workers, and teachers come to mind. Let’s also value those who clean up our messes, fix our stuff and provide comfort and entertainment.

Science and technology advancements continue to make our lives better. Medical knowledge helps us avoid and cure diseases, and lead healthier lifestyles. We have started a commitment to insure that all will have access to good healthcare. We can use new technologies to help save and improve our environment. Clean water is readily available for most. Modern conveniences allow us to more easily and effectively complete daily chores. Entertainment choices are more varied and available.

Personally, I can be thankful for loving parents who allowed their children to make their own mistakes and celebrated their successes. Those parents modeled kindness and acceptance of differing races and social classes. They valued learning, critical thinking and respectful disagreement. They demanded honesty and hard work. They embraced fun and a strong sense of humor. They demonstrated the importance of honoring family and friends. Even though they’re now gone, they guide me every day.

This article was going to be about big business, big government, big money and big media — things that few of us are probably thankful for. Those institutions will still be here next time I write (sigh). I can use up valuable time, paper and ink then. But, for now those resources are better used to reflect on the value of our everyday good fortunes, meager or large, physical or intangible, permanent or fleeting. So, let’s be thankful that we can choose to use that reflection to try to make things better for our neighbors, nation, and world.

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This column represents alternative thoughts to other published columns in the Crossville Chronicle. “We the People” is published each Wednesday. Opinions expressed in “We the People” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact John Wund, editor, at jwund@frontiernet.net.