Despite all the problems, there are still blessings

As Americans, Washingtonians and South Sound residents, there is much to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day 2012.

Despite its many imperfections, the United States remains a strong Democratic nation, home to a populace that has the freedom to speak its mind and to worship as desired, home to a people that elects its leaders in open, transparent elections and sends its able-bodied men and women in the military around the world to challenge tyranny and human rights abuses in their many evil forms.

At first blush, it’s easy to be discouraged by the world news – deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas, prolonged fighting in Afghanistan, civil war in Syria and saber-rattling by China and Japan over uninhabited, barren islands that both countries claim as theirs in the East China Sea.

But the world is, and always has been, a place of conflict and war. The goodness in the human condition does not continually prevail. It’s up to each and every one of us to help tilt the scale in the direction of humanity, forgiveness and kind deeds.

On the economic front, far too many willing workers still can’t find jobs. Home foreclosures mount, and the lines at area food banks continue to grow. The economic recovery all Americans long for can be imagined, but remains hard to grasp.

But the Great Recession is not the first time the economic well-being of the nation has been challenged. The oldest among us lived through the hardship of the Great Depression. They created a more resilient and stronger nation in the years that followed.

On the national political scene, the elections are completed, with only a few races still to be decided. The Washington, D.C., political landscape has changed very little with Barack Obama still in the White House, conservative Republicans still in control of the House and Democrats maintaining the majority in the Senate.

This recipe for bipartisan bickering and showmanship leaves a bad taste in the mouths of most Americans. Nobody wants our political leaders to send us over the fiscal cliff. We want political leadership and compromise and acknowledgement that the political status quo is a zero sum game.

There are so many brilliant minds in this country, and so much innovation and entrepreneurial skill to draw upon. Solutions to our societal problems are not easy, but they can be found, if the good of the whole, not just the individual, is embraced.

So on this day, let friends and family gather to share friendship and kinship, and give thanks for life’s many blessings.

Give thanks to the caregivers among us who help heal the sick and comfort those near the end of life’s journey.

Give thanks to the nonprofits and social service agencies that feed the hungry, house the homeless and tend to the needs of the mentally wounded.

Give thanks to all the men and women of the military, who have sacrificed their lives so that we may gather in private and in public without fear of reprisal.

Give thanks to the many volunteers and relief agencies who come to the aid of natural disaster victims, including most recently, the victims of Superstorm Sandy.

There are pessimists and optimists among us: Those who see the glass as half-full and those who see it has half- empty. Today’s a day to celebrate what is good in our world. Raise your half-full glass and give a toast of gratitude.