Beyond the ability to stretch our stomachs and examine the insides of our eyelids afterward, the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday is a good place for us to remember what is good in our lives, even if we think there isn’t enough good in our lives.
We may or may not be entirely pleased with our lot in life, whether that means our jobs, family situation, health, more things to do than time in the day, or the state of our favored athletic teams. If we think about it, though, we can always find someone who is worse off than we are. Those of us with children who appear on page 11B and elsewhere other than page 8B should be thankful for that, even when our children drive their parents near insanity for one reason or another.
Thanksgiving and all that food is brought to us by the world’s best farmers, for whom we should give thanks for their ability for a decreasing number of farmers on decreasing amounts of farmland to feed an increasing number of people. We should be thankful for the ability to choose where we want to buy our food, including the Platteville Farmers Market and farmers markets elsewhere.
I am thankful to be in the news business in an area where news generates itself on an amazingly regular basis. I am also thankful to be able to indulge my avocation, even if I am unlikely to ever announce the Packers in the Super Bowl or the Badgers in a national championship game. (Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black noted that the sports page chronicles man’s successes, while the front page chronicles man’s failures.) In my line of work, the problem of having too many things going on is infinitely preferable to the opposite, and I am thankful for my coworkers and people like John Dutcher, John Urness and others — including, you may notice this week, family members — who can pinch-photograph when I’m elsewhere.
The evening news and the Internet show that in contrast to those in other nations we are considerably safer here in Southwest Wisconsin. Several pages in this and last week’s editions of your favorite weekly newspaper have photos of veterans in Veterans Day programs, and we should be thankful that people serve (by choice now, though not always until the early 1970s) their country and defend it from our enemies.
Area churches are working together on helping homeless families in Family Promise of Grant County. Churches also work together on feeding people without a family for Christmas dinner in the annual Alone for Christmas. There are also monthly food pantries in Platteville and elsewhere for anyone who feels the need to use them, no questions asked.
Those of us with automobiles should be thankful for deer hunters this week because every deer a hunter harvests is one fewer you might, uh, “harvest” with your automobile.
I am not thankful for winter, which in my opinion includes four potentially lethal weather features, snow, ice and below-zero temperatures and wind chills. (At least snow benefits farmers.) I’m not very thankful for spring, which in this state veers between teases of summer and reversion to winter. But I am thankful for summer nights where the sun lingers until 9 p.m. thanks to Daylight Saving Time. I’m also thankful for all the fall days and nights that emulated summer this year. Any nice winter day makes winter shorter.
The Platteville Common Council will make two big decisions tonight, one about the city’s 2016 budget (the lack of public discussion of which has been unusual) and the other about the Library Block project developer’s agreement. You or I may well criticize them for their decisions after their vote. We should be thankful we have the right to criticize our elected officials under the First Amendment. (Criticism of elected officials is not only fundamental to the creation of this country, it goes back all the way to Psalm 146:3.)
We have seemingly increasingly heated disagreements about politics. I am not thankful that politics seems to permeate our lives daily. But we have the right to have those disagreements because of the First Amendment as well. Indeed, the entire Bill of Rights exists to protect the rights of political minorities. (Note that France’s search for the perpetrators of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks has been unimpeded by such legal niceties as search warrant requirements. Do you really want to live in that kind of country?)
None of this means everything’s perfect. (All human institutions are irredeemably flawed because of the involvement of humans.) But we have more ability to fix what’s wrong here than most people do worldwide, beginning with working at the local level (with or without government) to deal with our problems.
I am finally thankful for readers of The Journal, including this weekly space. The worst thing you can say to a writer is not that you disagree with the writer; the worst thing is saying that you don’t read the writer.