So much to be thankful for

From the The Brunswick News

Although almost half of Americans are disappointed with elections this Thanksgiving season, there are many reasons to be thankful.

I am thankful that we live in a democratic system that bends but does not break when a bitter election divides us into battling camps. In the rest of the world, that is cause for rioting in the streets, looting in the stores and killing just about everywhere.

Thankful for a free press that (although imperfectly) airs the views and grievances of a public allowed to express itself without reservation.

Thankful that enough public-spirited men and women offer themselves for office, knowing that the next personal political attack is just waiting for the next debate.

These good souls somehow overcome the scoundrels in our midst who see either an avenue for personal gain or revenge for perceived wrongs.

In an autumn of unsurpassed beauty in Southeast Georgia, we expressed our views at the ballot box without serious disturbance, and that is a very good reason to be happy.

For too long, we excluded citizens with different skin pigmentation. That happens far less now.

(Speaking of which, it is time for the Supreme Court to do away with the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That law requires that mostly some Southern states get permission to change election rules. Why should Kansas be allowed to impose voter identification laws without federal court approval, but not Alabama or other Southern states?)

It's hard to be thankful for the wrangling in Washington over taxes, spending and huge deficits.

But at least those arguments are playing out before our eyes, not behind closed doors.

We will have an opportunity to be more thankful if and when the federal deficit begins to recede and Congress stops continuing spending that nobody wants.

It's painful to learn that just over 51 percent of registered voters turned out for the presidential election. And it is even more painful to know that 9.1 percent fewer voters went to the polls than four years ago.

Still, there was an election where a majority of us participated in governing ourselves.

Though many white Southerners hated the civil rights slogan, "one man one vote" when it became a battle cry in the middle of the last century, it is one of the things to be thankful for as the nation faces up to its responsibility to hear from all sides.

Some will say there is nothing to be thankful for now, when 54 percent of us say the nation is on the wrong track. That just is not true.

In Southeast Georgia we should be very thankful that we are here.

We arise in the morning to a beautiful sunrise most of the time. We live in a region far more courteous that the rest of the world.

Compared to the peasants in China or Bangladesh or India, even our poorest live far better.

I am thankful for the bald eagles that soar over us after building their massive nests in growing numbers. For the turtles that splash noisily and clumsily into the lake as we approach. For the fresh game and fish that others harvest and I eat heartily.

Thankful for the bike paths that wend their ways through country quiet and easy. For the little shops that exist in the face of behemoth stores. For the time to read something enlightening (or frequently just entertaining) on a screened porch.

Happy that I can emerge from a church where the congregation is not fearful that a hateful, murderous mob is waiting in ambush.

Glad to relax in a peaceful home to watch a football game when it would be much more healthful to be moving outside, even into a cold rain with heavy wind, for some much needed exercise.

Personally, I am thankful to be involved with the College of Coastal Georgia, where the students give me a completely new perspective.

They are concerned about their future but almost unfailingly eager to get on with what they hope will be productive lives.

We all fall into despondency sometimes, deciding that the world is a dark and scary place. But we don't live in that place; many others do live in the turmoil of riots, insurrections, hunger and dictatorship.

I'm thankful for The Brunswick News for loaning me this space for personal viewpoints without restriction.

I'm thankful to Lady Diana for making my life fulfilled.

As Shakespeare said a long time before the first Thanksgiving Day celebration, "We therefore have great cause for thankfulness."

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Release Date: 11/20/2012
Source: The Brunswick News

By REG MURPHY