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Are We Still Thankful?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Aaron Favila

Impeachment continues in Washington. The national press is fixated on it. Democrats, too, are fixated on it. Republicans and independent voters have no interest in it or appetite for it. Much of the nation seems in need of a distraction. We will have some distraction with Thanksgiving.

Recent polling from Georgetown University shows that the average American thinks we are past the halfway point to a second civil war. Our nation is exceptionally divided. Our communities are breaking down. Eating chicken sandwiches has become not just controversial but polemical. No one seems willing to live and let live. Both sides scream about who started it. Are we -- are you -- still thankful?

Life sometimes has a way of making us appreciate small miracles. Life has a way of showing us what we should be thankful for. This past week, a family friend died. She went to bed not feeling well and died in her sleep. She left behind her husband and young sons. Two days after this tragedy, my wife headed to her regular oncology visit.

My wife has a rare form of lung cancer caused by a genetic mutation. Though there is no cure, she takes a small pill every day that is a miracle of modern medicine. The tumors in her lungs are too numerous to be surgically removed, but the pill keeps them from growing. One day, the pill will stop working. With metronomic regularity, my wife goes through a series of scans and blood tests to make sure the pill continues its work. I am thankful it keeps working.

The death of a friend and the ongoing battle against cancer in my own family make me very thankful for very many things. Most of all, I am thankful for a very real God I can call upon in times of stress, worry and trouble. He gives me no escape, but then, He could not escape the cross. But I am thankful and comforted by the thought that He will walk beside me.

I am thankful for friends who call to check on us, offer warm meals, and words of humor and wisdom. In a world where isolation is easy, I am thankful for friends who make time for me and for the community they give me.

Have you accounted for the things about which you should be thankful? I would challenge you here, in this very sentence, to pause for just a moment and consider the things about which you are thankful. Meditate for one minute on those things before proceeding to the next paragraph.

Now, I have a question for you. Of the things for which you are thankful, how many of those things involve politics? Hopefully none, but some reading this will either be thankful for the president or thankful the Democrats might impeach him. You might be thankful for the prevailing trends in politics or the countervailing trends in politics. But all these things are fleeting, because there is no permanence to politics in America.

The people most prone to thankfulness based on politics will, at some point, be the least thankful people when the political winds blow against them. This week, there will inevitably be various articles about arguing at Thanksgiving over politics. I have never lived in a family that did this, but I imagine there must be people who live in such families.

It should not take life and death to make these people realize that politics are not something for which any of us should be thankful. Sure, be thankful we live in a stable republic where we can speak freely and vote. But if you put thankfulness for a politician ahead of thankfulness for your family, friends or other blessings, perhaps reprioritize.

American politics has entered a strange phase. Perhaps it will become a new normal. I find it exhausting and hope it will revert to some semblance of the old normalcy. But I can honestly say that, regardless of what happens, my thankfulness and happiness are not tied to the ups, downs and whims of Washington. We should be thankful for our country but more thankful for those with us this holiday season.

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