Staying Awake To Thankfulness

Published: November 16, 2017 at 12:00 am


"Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life." -Robert Louis Stevenson

It is easy to sleepwalk through the days, taking for granted what for others in the world are huge extravagances: clean water; fresh air; shelter; plentiful food; health care; jobs; and trust in those people who govern our world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more than two billion people globally lack access to safe water in the home, with 844 million not having drinking water services. Hours are spent each week, mostly by women, fetching water daily.

We are thankful for clean water sources, and the ease of turning on a faucet.

People living in cities of low- and middle-income countries experience air pollution levels beyond the WHO limits, according to statistics gathered by this organization between 2008 and 2013. Those exposed to high levels of air pollution are at risk for heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases, resulting in more than three million premature deaths annually worldwide.

We are thankful for the dedication of local and state officials to keep our air clean, and for every breath of clean air.

A United Nations survey from 2015 estimates 100 million people on this planet are homeless, and nearly "1.6 billion lacked adequate housing." A lack of housing leads to poor physical and mental health, addiction, crime, educational issues, hunger, and joblessness. Imagine a lack of shelter in the winter cold or summer heat of New England: we have neighbors in peril.

We are thankful for safe and secure homes, and services that reach out to those in need.

There are 400 million people in the world without access to health care, according to a 2015 report by WHO. Essential health services, as well as vaccination and health programs, are not easily available. The poor and borderline poor who pay out of pocket for health care suffer doubly: increased poverty results from the high cost of health care.

We are thankful for community clinics, and health care providers who bring services to people here and abroad. We are thankful for programs that support healthy lifestyles. We are thankful for access to a variety of foods at affordable prices, for food pantries that provide for those in need.

Worldwide unemployment ranges from four percent to 12 percent in developed countries; undeveloped countries see that number rise to 30 percent of the population. Even more people are affected by underemployment.

We are thankful for our jobs, and for the people who create employment opportunities.

In a world where civil liberties and freedom of individual rights are curtailed, we are thankful for a democracy that strives for balance. We are thankful for public servants, paid and volunteer, who dedicate themselves to bettering our society

We are awake to the needs of those inside and outside of our beautiful town. We are thankful, beyond the one Thanksgiving Day set aside each year in this country, for the bounty of blessings we experience.

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