Today is our nation’s 223rd Thanksgiving.
Just like that first Thanksgiving back in 1789, this is a day set aside to count our blessings.
America was born of a desire to be free of the imperialistic whims and tyranny of the privileged ruling class. And while the behavior of some on Wall Street, a few career politicians, and a healthy dose of entrenched bureaucrats may cause us to think much hasn’t really changed since the days of King George, it really has.
It all started by acts of the un-empowered working in concert. Those first immigrants to this land not sent by government or kings to colonize or plunder did so not simply come here to better their own lot but to enhance the human condition. Those who found themselves powerless as individuals against the state - in their case the freedom to worship as one wishes - chose to band together with others to turn the tide.
It was done at great sacrifice. They were immigrants and pioneers alike braving both physical and cultural frontiers.
It was the birth of a great American tradition of acting not under orders of the government to help others struggling to survive and achieve a better future but under a sense that individuals with freewill helping each other can make a difference.
The much ballyhooed safety net propped up by government decree and taxation isn’t what has kept many afloat during times of trials and tribulations.
Individuals acting on their own and with others have reached out to the less fortunate among their neighbors since the beginning of the republic.
They not only keep homeless shelters, food closets, and safe haven for youth up and running but they quietly do things that are never going to dominate the evening newscast or be immortalized with millions of “likes” in the vast void known as the Internet.
They commit countless acts of kindness every day benefitting those who have fallen through the safety net or are struggling to hold on to a frayed rope of hope.
In Manteca the examples are countless. There are dentists, optometrists, and physicians who give of their services without charge. There are those that educators and others can turn to when a kid from a struggling family can’t afford clothes or shoes.
There are those who are barely getting by themselves who save pennies and dimes year-round to help buy turkeys because they remember what it was like going hungry.
We have much to be thankful for on this day - and every day for that matter.
Too often we forget that.
Perhaps it’s because the era of instant communication, 24-7 purveyors of bad news and strife on cable, or a perceived disconnect between neighbors have been allowed to overshadow our lives and our spirit.
It is important to remember that our strength comes not from government per se but from people working for the common good.
We are not perfect. There is suffering. And there is evil.
That said we are indeed blessed.
If you doubt that, just go back to that first Thanksgiving and move forward year by year cataloging where we have gone as a society and as a nation. The good far outweighs the bad.
And then look around you. Take stock in those who embellish the spirit of those first pilgrims. The little acts of kindness they do out of a sense of the common good are why despair and evil haven’t engulfed the world despite their best efforts.
And it is why as we celebrate our 223rd Thanksgiving as a nation that we indeed have a lot to be thankful for.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.