The Commerce News
November 22, 2000
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
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
The Jackson Herald
November 22, 2000
Proclamation of 1863
"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
Jackson County Opinion Index
The Jackson Herald
November 22, 2000
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
· 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
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."
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
November 22, 2000
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
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
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