Community Commentary: Another serving of Thanksgiving

If I had my way, Thanksgiving would become a weeklong holiday at least once a decade — a time to take stock of who and where we are, and where we are going.

We would take our heads out of the clouds of our self-absorption, including the Internet "cloud." We would turn off our cell phones and TVs. We'd put away our iPads and Kindles.

We'd take a walk around the block and say hello to everyone we came across. We'd volunteer for some kind of community service for a day or two.

We'd actually give thanks for what we have and celebrate the good in our lives.

This would definitely be the year of my choosing for the weeklong Thanksgiving celebration of life.

I spent my working life as a newspaperman, seeing half-full glasses as mostly empty, digging into things to find out what was wrong, not right, the same way a cop looks for criminals, not for those obeying the law.

The injustices and the inequities, the greed and the corruption, the waste and the inefficiencies, the pain and the suffering, the fear and the doubt — there is more than enough of all of that to keep everyone one of us busy full-time compiling all that is wrong.

We are all wired 24/7, absorbing data and communicating electronically. We keep our kids programmed in activities and put video games into the hands of 2-year-olds.

Maybe it is time we stopped, looked and listened to the birds chirping in the trees and the wind rustling the leaves. Maybe we should actually hear what others are saying, and relate to each other from our hearts, instead of our over-stimulated brains.

Everywhere I go, people relay a sense of nostalgia for simpler times, a yearning for a richer sense of community at a time when we have lost faith in so many of our institutions of government, business, sports — even religion.

Personally, I think it is a dangerous moment, a moment in which we seem to prefer to be at war with each other, rather than to find the common ground where our interests and values can be balanced.

A lot of people think the American Dream is dead. But look around at all the new immigrants and their children moving ahead financially, educationally, socially and politically, and blending their cultures into the mainstream of our society.

Yes, it is tough out there for people who have lost, or are at risk of losing, jobs and homes, for people struggling to feed their children, for nearly all of us who are worrying about what the future will bring.

Yet, 90% of us are employed; the number of people who have reached the age of 90 has tripled; crime is at a historic low, and most of all, we have the opportunity to join the great awakening that is only possible in hard times when calamity looms.

We can be certain that great changes are coming, and that we have the right and the power to shape our own individual and collective destiny. That, after all, is what the American Dream is really about, from the Pilgrims at Plymouth to the Declaration of Independence to today.

So do something nice for others this week, donate to a food bank, or to some cause you care about. Give thanks for the good in your life.

RON KAYE, who writes for the Daily Pilot's sister publications in the Los Angeles area, can be reached at

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