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Giving thanks
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It is that time of year again; a time to count your blessings and give thanks. Many of you might read that and say “Give thanks? What for?” I understand why giving thanks may be a little bit harder this year.
The unemployment rate in Stanislaus County rose from 15.3 percent in September to 16.6 percent in October, reflecting the end of harvest season. In the past, many of the seasonally employed agricultural workers have depended on holiday retail sales positions to augment their yearly income, but not this year. Retail stores are struggling to maintain the workforces they currently have and are not anticipating the normal surge of holiday shoppers and therefore have not taken on their usual temporary help.
And due to the continued double digit unemployment rates, home foreclosures are at an all-time high. An Internet search of foreclosures in Stanislaus County brings up a list of more than 1,400 houses.
The seemingly nonstop budget cuts coming down from the state have effected many important social service programs and our educational system. The notion that anyone can succeed if they work hard and get a college education seems a little misleading in these troubling economic times. I know many hard working people and hard working college graduates who cannot find a job no matter how determined they are to work.
And our country appears to be more divided now than it was during the Civil War. Well, that might be an exaggeration — for now. But I would not be surprised if Democrats and Republicans across the country suddenly took up arms against each other and forced everyone to join either the Blue Coats or the Red Coats. If that happens, I am definitely moving to Canada.
While all the negative things I have just listed seem to be cause to forsake giving thanks this harvest season, I beg to differ.
All one needs to do is remember the first Thanksgiving in 1621 in Plymouth Colony, and today’s troubles seem like mere trifles. The Pilgrims were harassed and jailed due to their religious beliefs and decided to flee England to the New World in search of freedom. After enduring a nightmarish nine-month sea voyage, the group found themselves having to create a society from scratch.
They had to learn new ways of farming, those that would be suitable for their new homeland; build new houses and meeting rooms; and all the while be on the look out for hostile natives, who did not exactly ask to have their lands invaded by disease-carrying white men. Talk about some rough times!
And if thoughts of our country’s first settlers doesn’t make you realize how good you really have it, then turn on the television or read a magazine.
According to a global research study commissioned by the International Red Cross Red Crescent, 76 percent of those surveyed in Afghanistan who had personal experience of armed conflict said they were forced to leave their homes and 61 percent said they had lost contact with a close relative. In Liberia, 90 percent of those surveyed said they had been displaced, followed by 61 percent in Lebanon and 58 percent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Researchers also found that in countries where armed conflict is ongoing — particularly in Afghanistan and Haiti — many people were denied access to basic services such as water, electricity and health care.
So if you are currently down on your luck and bemoaning this holiday season of cheer, just remember that you still live in a free country where violence is relatively infrequent and clean water is just a turn of the faucet away.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.