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This may seem to be an odd time to be filled with gratitude, considering the violence and rebellion based on lies and selfishness coiling and spitting around us, but gratitude lifts our spirits and feeds all that’s good within us. The other times we’ve faced violence, there were honest grievances lying beneath. This rebellion was built by people and corporations around the world with a goal of toppling democracy to give themselves more power, people who’ve been infiltrating American government and law enforcement at every level for years and inventing stories like bizarre video game plots to dazzle and bully those who can’t cope with sorting out truth. But this blog isn’t about them. They have enough attention.
When I begin to feel despair, I remember the huge majority of Americans from every walk of life who have gone to extraordinary lengths to preserve and improve the ideals they cherish. First, then, thank you to the people who defied threatening neighbors to stand in long, uncomfortable lines to vote, often in brutal weather conditions. You took family time and risked illness and community repercussions to protect us all. Every vote counted. You opened the door to hope. I’m among the deeply grateful.
Next, thank you to those who dug deep into their wallets to contribute time and again to candidates and groups they trusted to work on their concerns by legal means. They gave monies they could well have used elsewhere, because they wanted to help. They made a difference. Every donation counted.
Thank you to the volunteers who gave hours and braved humiliation, insult, and worse to reach out, encouraging others who believe in building a safer, stronger, more diverse unified culture to sustain us all. They brought us together. Every hour, every step, every door counted. You are the protectors of unity.
Thank you to the caring ones who called frightened friends and family to reassure them that we won’t surrender our values to a lot of thugs, regardless of what happens next. Thank you, too, to the immigrants who believed in America enough to become citizens as well as Americans who have lost loved ones—physically or emotionally—in the fray. Following the example of Nelson Mandela who rose above bitterness, we’ll link arms, defend a fair rule of law, and keep working to move forward. Together with our friends abroad, we are a formidable force. We love one another, and every act of love or kindness counts, for it is loving deeds that transform us.
Thank you to the brave, compassionate souls who won elective offices in Washington, knowing they were walking into years of arguments, work, and danger to their very lives as they struggled to improve fairness and diversity while pursuing our welfare. They won’t always navigate the best path forward, but they try and that alone separates them from the destroyers. And thank you, as well, to those who act honorably to maintain our security in spite of thousands who mistrust…with reason…all military, police, and intelligence services. You have risked and, in some cases, given your lives in the execution of your duties even when you were betrayed by your fellows and doubted by the people you defend. How painful and unsettling that must be.
Finally, thank you to all the healers, scientists, and honest, intelligent journalists who struggle to protect our brains and bodies from degradation and our spirits from hopelessness. We realize we’re being tested, but they do all they can to give us the resources to face our challenges with clear eyes. We’ve fought bloody wars against dictators and prejudice, but when we de-fanged those regimes, we didn’t eliminate the dark passions and dirty tricks that gave them power over the masses. We have to keep trying. I remember singing “…Everybody get together, try to love one another right now…” with the Youngbloods. On dark days, I wonder what happened to that sentiment. If it weren’t for all the people I’ve just thanked—plus many more who didn’t leap to mind—American idealism might be lost. But it isn’t. It’s strong and real. The builders outnumber the destroyers. In fact, we’ve recently picked up more hopeful believers from the shadows where they were waiting to be included. I’m proud and humbled to share a country with them. I’m certainly not the only one who is immensely grateful. We earn our progress as we hold hands, listen to one another, and pick our way through the swamp, following the sun.