A starter list for Thanksgiving
Counting our blessings can take up more time than finishing that cranberry casserole.
Lights that come on when a switch is flipped, refrigerators that bulge with food and drink, gas pumps that are open every hour of every day to keep us going, roads and airports that have pavement, hospitals with clean equipment and trained personnel. About 45 percent of the world’s population lacks adequate sanitation. About 750 million people have no access to electricity.
Places to have Thanksgiving dinner, no matter how calorically irresponsible or politically unpleasant. There were nearly 550,000 unhoused people in the United States last year, or 18 of every 10,000.
The feast itself. More than 33 million Americans, including five million children, were classified as “food insecure” by the USDA in 2022.
Rosalynn Carter, who died last week at age 96. She and former President Carter were married for 77 years. Their wedding happened the year after World War II ended. They had several explanations for how long they lasted. Her standby was, “Never go to bed angry.”
The Covid-19 vaccine researchers and distributors, and all of those who ignored the tumult and got the shot. The Commonwealth Fund estimated last year that, in the U.S. alone, the vaccines saved $1.15 trillion in medical costs, along with 18.5 million hospitalizations and 3.2 million deaths. Perhaps we should remember three years ago, when “intubations” was a common word, and when families, divided by necessity, struggled to find reasons to give thanks.
The first responders in Maui.
The first responders in Gaza and in Israel, who had been trained for many situations but never for sights like this.
Those who have traveled to Ukraine and to its neighboring countries to care for families who have lost their husbands and fathers at the hands of the invaders. They’ve also given companionship to those who spend dark nights listening to air raid sirens, and who wonder if those husbands and fathers will return intact.
The war correspondents from TV networks, websites and newspapers who ignore the dangers and try to push the truth through a thicket of distraction.
The members of the Border Patrol who are faced with a task that grows more futile with each day, thanks to Washington-style playacting in lieu of real support or policy, and who are dealing with danger as well.
The climate scientists who work in Antarctica and Greenland and other places where the evidence is measured in disappearing ice, not just stats on a printout, and who have grown hoarse from warning us about the untenable conditions that we are leaving for our descendants.
Shuji Nakamura, the UC Santa Barbara professor who has founded Blue Laser Fusion, to build a nuclear fusion reactor by 2030 and pursue what might be the last, best, cleanest hope for the world’s energy.
The legion of drama teachers, actors, directors, and playwrights who fight to keep the stage alive, with no promise of a living wage and against all cultural currents. Covid-19 did not help this particular industry.
Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit, who died in 1977 but deserves continued thanks, as the chairman of the Air Quality Board, for realizing that cars did not have to fill the L.A. Basin with poison. Thanks to his effort, a couple of Southern California generations have no idea what “smog” is, or was.
And for Substack, and the wide variety of opinions, first-person accounts and insights that it carries via newsletter. Even though such newsletters can sometimes exist just as an outlet for the indulgences of the writer, I hope they’re intriguing enough to keep you reading.