By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Seeing the world more clearly now
Placeholder Image
Les Thomas is a true gentleman who is also a neighbor.

He is always in an upbeat mood and willingness to lend a helping hand. His commitment to serve others is illustrated in his unwavering assistance with the Manteca Chamber of Commerce’s Flags over Manteca project, the Young Men’s Institute of St. Anthony’s and other community endeavors.

Les’ smile was bigger than usual on Tuesday as I jogged by his house as he was getting into his van. When he pulled up even with me at a stop sign I found out why.

He was grinning ear-to-ear thanks to cataract surgery that had cleared up the cloudiness in his vision. As we went our separate ways I couldn’t help but reflect on how fortunate we are to live in 2010 in the United States.

Too often we are wrapped up in the bad news du jour that is repeatedly hammered into our consciousness by the Internet, cable TV news channels, network news, radio, and print media. That’s not to mention the campaign jive candidates blast us with trying to establish their superiority in a bid to get elected by stressing how their opponent has driven civilization as we now know it to the edge of the abyss.

Some claim that the non-stop barrage of bad news has made some of us indifferent and cold. At the very least it can be numbing to the point you can start believing the entire world is going to hell where you are forced to spend eternity watching non-stop  Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner campaign commercials.

The negativity of instant communication may numb us but the truth is this is a great time to be alive.

Yes, there are concerns about global warming, rising fuel prices, depressed housing prices, obese government, gang violence, and much more.

However, all of that for the most part is wiped out in our lives by the overwhelming presence of good.

If you doubt that, think of what it would have been like to be alive 70 years ago when the lingering Great Depression morphed into World War II. Go back 120 years ago and compare what it would have been like to have a hernia or cataracts.  A hernia had a strong chance of turning into a death sentence while cataracts would more often than not ultimately plunge you into a world of near blindness.

For those who think the United States today is in serious decline, ask yourself what it would be like to live in a Third World country. Our sanitary sewer systems, safe drinking water systems, method of disposing garbage, and immunizations against disease are things that many people on the planet can only dream of perhaps accessing one day.

Having said that, it is amazing to see how people facing some of the worst adversity you can imagine also have the most positive attitude and enjoy each day despite the pain and sorrow that crashes against them.

The overwhelming odds against you being born in the first place let alone living long enough to start fretting in earnest over the state of the world are pretty astronomical.

Yet we too often measure happiness in things that really don’t count - bigger houses, the latest material gadgets, and piles of money.

You basically have two options in life. You can live it under a self-imposed cloud of darkness or you can let the sun shine in.

Being able to jog, bicycle, dig holes, cut down trees, jump around like a mad man (you should see me do aerobics) and even walk with two serious hernias under my belt would have constituted a major miracle just 100 short years ago which is merely a speck in the time man has been on this earth.

By the same token, being able to see the every day world clearly once again - being given a second chance to appreciate the good things in life whether they are a sunset or the face of another – is truly amazing.

Les Thomas was smiling more than usual Tuesday because he is blessed.

Actually, all of us are.