Editorial: There are plenty of reasons for a happy Thanksgiving this year

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

While we may have difficulty filling all the seats at our Thanksgiving table this year, we should have an easier time filling our list of items to be thankful for.

It is no great revelation that tough times spur many of us to more easily remember what we’ve in the past taken for granted. Given that, 2020 has produced quite a bounty. Here are a few to consider on this important day.

• Health. This shows up on the list almost every year, but sometimes does so in an obligatory fashion. This past year has been a painful reminder of how without good health so many other things don’t really matter. But hopefully this year also has served as a reminder that health is not a spectator sport. It requires participation. There is much we can and should do to improve our own health. But this year, surely more so than any other in our lifetimes, has been a reminder that there are things we can and should do to help protect the health of others.

• Democracy. You may balk at this topic if you are among the many who eschew political talk at the Thanksgiving table. That is a good rule, but fear not. Democracy is not politics. Democracy is what protects us from politics. All a politician can do is try to manipulate democracy. All the rest of us get to actually wield it. And we did in record numbers. If you believe — falsely — that this most recent democratic election was rigged, we can agree to have that debate on another day when there isn’t so much food nearby to toss at one another. But, hopefully, on this day we can all agree that we love democracy and we want no taste of an alternative system.

• Essential workers. There has been much public thanking of many frontline workers such as health care professionals, teachers and first responders. That is deservedly so during these times and many others. But surely this pandemic has sharpened our view of essential. Take just one example: grocery store employees. This pandemic has brought into focus what has been true all along. They are an essential link in the country’s food supply chain. They, and many others in similarly overlooked positions, deserve our thanks. But they also deserve our thoughts on how the system can serve them better. Capitalism is the greatest economic system on earth, but it can’t function solely on supply and demand. A certain element of compassion has to be part of the equation too.

• Science. On April 26, this page carried an editorial predicting that “Science will win.” Today, we are much closer to being able to flip that prediction to a proclamation. There are now at least three vaccine candidates that are showing great promise. Some could actually just be weeks away from distribution to portions of the American population. Our generation someday soon will have its own V-Day: Vaccine Day. It will happen because men and women across the globe devote themselves to science rather than some of the more trivial and destructive pursuits like political debate, cable television, social media or any number of other mind-numbing activities. We don’t all have the talents or aptitude to be scientists. But hopefully we all can find the ability to recognize the value of science and give thanks to those who can filter out all the noise and chaos of this world to practice it.

• Hope. As valuable as science is, there are some things even more valuable that can’t be produced in a laboratory. Hope is one of them. It is produced in the heart. It is fueled by faith — whatever that may mean in your personal view of the universe. A vaccine eventually will deliver us from this pandemic era. But it is important to remember that there never will be a vaccine or a shot in the arm to protect hope from this virus or any other threat. The good news is we’ve all come equipped with what we need to keep hope alive. The bad news is it is a never-ending quest to find it. It is a quest — if possible — best done with others. Whether it is in a chair across from your table, on the other end of a Zoom call, or simply in spirit, let us all be together today and full of hope.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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