Jackson County Opinions...

November 21, 2000



Column
By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
November 22, 2000

Being Thankful Is Actually Good For You
Thursday is the day we're supposed to set aside in America to count our blessings, but being thankful seems to be something of a declining art.
Maybe it's because so few are left who remember the Great Depression, or maybe it's because we've had a decade of unprecedented prosperity in America, thanks to the Clinton presidency (sorry, I just couldn't resist throwing that in for all my Republican friends). Maybe it's because not only are we all wealthy (compared to the rest of the world), but we are also removed from those parts of the world where life remains a desperate struggle.
It is said that one doesn't miss the water until the well runs dry; for a lot of us, the well has never truly come close to running dry. Because we are accustomed to living in abundance, it neither seems particularly abundant nor something for which we should be overly thankful.
But being thankful depends less upon one's circumstances than one's state of mind. You can learn to be thankful just by practicing, and the exercise is healthy for your perspective.
Perhaps there is someone for whom life has been so horrible there is nothing about which he can be thankful, but it is more likely that the thankless person simply refuses to acknowledge his blessings. For some people, acknowledging thankfulness means admitting that their life is not as horrid as they want to believe.
I consider myself a thankful person, having developed the habit of contemplating the things of life from which I derive enjoyment, pleasure or other blessings. They are large things and incredibly insignificant things, but all of them make a difference. When you consciously inventory the things that give you pleasure, whether it's the love of your family or the sound of a brook, you begin to understand that the list is infinite. What you appreciate today, you might ignore tomorrow, but the richness of life is evident for those who look for it.
The admonition to "stop and smell the roses" is recognition that life often causes us to overlook the good things. So focused are we on the business of living that we literally can walk by the rose bush without stopping to enjoy the fragrance of the blooms.
We are not Pilgrims, lucky to survive the first winter. We are residents of the richest land in the world who, in trying to live the "American dream," set our sights so far ahead that we sometimes don't enjoy life in the present. Our wealth is unparalleled, but the abundance of self-help books, psychological disorders and destructive lifestyles testifies that there is a great amount of unhappiness. For all that we have, there are a lot of people who feel neither blessed nor thankful.
Everyone confronts despair, hardship and loss, at which times it is difficult to feel thankful, but that does not mean good things are absent. They are there always, and they make life worth living, all the more so if we recognize them as blessings.
Giving thanks should be a daily occurrence, a private acknowledgement that no matter what happens, there are still many blessings in our lives.



Editorial
The Jackson Herald
November 22, 2000

Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863
Abraham Lincoln
"It is the duty of nations as well as of men to swear their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in holy scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.
"We know that by his divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptious sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?
"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown.
"But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
"It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
Signed: A. Lincoln
October 3, 1863

 

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Column
By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
November 22, 2000

Americans are focused on more than just politics
The closeness of the presidential election has convinced some people that America is divided. But in this week of Thanksgiving, we would do well to remember that our American character isn't shaped by politics alone.
As others have observed, politics isn't the only place Americans express their ideas or put their loyalties. With a myriad of social and civic organizations, we Americans express ourselves in many ways through many different venues.
That is one of the major differences between our nation and those that are less stable. We do not focus our lives totally around politics. Regardless of our political beliefs, we Americans have many ways of working with people in our community who may have different political views.
Bolstering this optimistic view of America is a recent Shell Poll that found despite a lot of changes in our family structures, a majority of Americans are family-focused.
According to the poll, 75 percent of Americans spend Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah with their immediate family and 70 percent said family time is the best thing about the holiday season.
Other findings form the survey:
· 49 percent said they will attend a holiday season office party this year.
· 52 percent said they have donated time to a charity and 73 percent said they had donated money to a charity.
· 66 percent said they are satisfied with their relationships with neighbors and 56 percent said they know their neighbors fairly well. Those numbers are higher for rural areas than for urban areas.
· 50 percent of Americans said they eat dinner at home with their families almost every night while an additional 18 percent eat together as families several times each week.
· 86 percent of Americans said they are satisfied with their relationships with family members, with 63 percent saying they are "totally" satisfied.
· 62 percent said they spend most of their leisure time with family rather than with friends.
· 80 percent said they call home to speak to their mothers at least once per week while 66 percent said they talk to their fathers once per week. (Single men are more likely to call their mothers than married men, 42 percent vs. 17 percent.)
· 76 percent said they occasionally eat out with friends while 55 percent said they entertain at home.
· 53 percent said the majority of their friends were from their current place of work, a larger percentage than from churches (38 percent) or clubs and organizations (39 percent).
· 60 percent said they believe the Internet has helped bring people closer together.
We have a lot of problems in this country, but perhaps we aren't as bad off as we think.

***

With all the controversy over the presidential election, a number of reforms have been suggested. One of those would be to have people vote at home by computer or from mailed ballots.
Columnist George Will spoke to those schemes in a recent column, the last part of which bears repeating:
"Let's privatize airports, part of Social Security and much else, but let us not consign to private spaces the supreme moment of public choice. The great national coming together on Election Day - the coming to public places, by the public, for the peaceful allocation of public power - should be the exhilarating central episode of our civic liturgy."
To that I can only say, "Amen."
Happy Thanksgiving.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.


Editorials
The Commerce News
November 22, 2000

Thankful America Can Withstand Election 2000
It is both annoying and frustrating for many Americans to watch the maneuvering and the delays in Florida that keep the 2000 presidential election from having a clear winner. But as this nation heads toward its national holiday of Thanksgiving, the process in Florida can be seen in a different light.
Yes, the electoral process has been confused, perhaps even abused, but in reality that difficulty has had little impact on our nation. Whatever the outcome, America will move forward. It's part of our heritage.
There are a lot of nations where such a confrontation would result in anarchy and violence. The stock market may suffer, the election may be "won" or "stolen," depending on one's view of the eventual outcome, but the government will continue to function. The executive branch may be in disarray right now, but the legislative and judicial branches are intact, our rights remain protected, business and industry are at work and there is an infinite number of sources to which citizens may turn to voice their opinions or to get news and commentary about what is happening.
However divided or undecided our nation may be about who should lead it the next four years, the underlying strength of the republic is undiminished. The nation that threw off British tyranny, withstood a bloody Civil War, responded to Pearl Harbor and that has survived the assassination of presidents will outlast this crisis as well.
We should be thankful that America has the commitment to a calm governmental transition, even when the process is convoluted. Whatever the outcome in the presidential election, it will be reached without violence, without one party throwing its opposition in jail and without military intervention.
The election has been and continues to be both frustrating and fascinating, but it shows the world yet again that America's strength and stability are unchanged. We should be thankful that our government and our Constitution can withstand even the election of 2000.


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