Happy Thanksgiving

Elinor Tatum | 11/28/2013, 6 a.m.
Elinor Tatum

As we sit around the Thanksgiving table this year, what will you be thankful for?

Will it be your family and your friends? Your children? Your spouse? Your health and your home? Your job? Your pets? The person who helped you with a heavy load? The stranger who smiled at you as you crossed the street when you were feeling low?

Will you be thankful for the fact that even though it is still a struggle, we are relatively free to vote and participate in a democratic society? Will you be thankful for all the struggles our ancestors went through so that we could be where we are today? Will you be thankful for the fact that we have freedom of the press and freedom of speech?

While we have so much to be thankful for, there are so many issues that our families and our communities must still fight for. For too many of us, there is still not enough food in our cupboards, let alone a leak-proof roof over our heads. For too many of us, our children are not getting the educational opportunities that they are entitled to and that they deserve. For too many of us, the health care we receive is inadequate and the programs that might help us are being thwarted by partisan politics and ideologues who believe that they know what is right for us. 

Too many of us are dealing with family and friends who are caught up in the criminal justice system and may never be able to get a break because the opportunities for the formerly incarcerated are few and far between.

We live in a society where there is so much to be thankful for, yet that does not mean we can or should become complacent. We need to be thankful for the fact that we can still fight—that certain human and civil rights remain in place, albeit not without a struggle to keep them. We need to be thankful for our leaders and our organizations that are leading the charge, and we need to be thankful for all those who support us in our times of need and make sure that we are OK.

So as you sit at your Thanksgiving table, what are you thankful for? Before taking a bite, save a thought or extend a prayer for those unable to enjoy this holiday, the millions of unemployed here and abroad, the homeless, the teeming millions still lingering in the shadows waiting for immigration reform. Are you thankful for all the things mentioned above or are you merely thankful that your friends and family were able to get home safely and that navigating the streets was not another death sentence?