On this Thanksgiving Day:
Be thankful for the continuation of the American story, renewed this year by the arrival of a new generation of local leaders in Minneapolis, St. Paul and other state and local governments. Be mindful of the personal sacrifices that elected officials make on the public’s behalf. They deserve respectful treatment — even on Twitter.
Be thankful for the prosperity of a state with the nation’s ninth-lowest unemployment rate and second-highest labor force participation rate. Be mindful that a shortage of skilled workers is already crimping economic activity in some Minnesota places and industrial sectors.
Be thankful for signs that Minnesota is becoming not only more diverse, but more accepting of the leadership ability that is present in every part of the human family. Be mindful that this state continues to be hampered by larger socioeconomic gaps between its white and nonwhite populations than seen in any other state.
Be thankful for this state’s natural beauty and bounty, seen in another abundant harvest. Be mindful that human activity is changing the climate in ways that put Minnesota’s water quality, wildlife and agricultural outputs at risk — and that humans have the capacity to change their activity to lessen those ill effects.
Be thankful that America’s constitutional order, its system of checks and balances, has shown itself so far worthy of the test of the Trump era. Often frustrating in its cumbersome tendency toward gridlock, it’s a system wisely designed by America’s framers to constrain reckless political passions, on any side. Be mindful that no institutional structure can forever protect an imprudent people from themselves.
Be thankful for all of the wonders of modern medicine and medications — so easy to take for granted — not least the power to relieve pain in a way our suffering forebears could only have dreamed. Be mindful that great blessings can turn to curse when unwisely or mistakenly misused, as in the nation’s horrible opioid addiction crisis, which all must work to heal.
Be thankful for our armed services, veterans and military families, whose sacrifices have guaranteed the freedoms that form the bedrock of our democracy. Be mindful of the commitment our nation has made to a lifetime of care upon their safe return. The Department of Veterans Affairs and its vital medical system require robust support and conscientious leadership.
Be thankful for the fierce health care advocates who fought off repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Be mindful that the law remains a political target, even though the financial assistance the ACA provides struggling families and individuals is still desperately needed.
Be thankful that Americans with relative ease can still wield that mightiest of weapons in democracy’s arsenal — casting a vote. Be mindful that too many choose not to exercise this right. Often a simple assist — offering a ride to a polling place or helping someone register to vote — is the remedy.
Be thankful for the connections social media forges with friends and family. Be mindful that being behind a keyboard doesn’t mean you can abandon civility and good manners.
Be thankful for the small pleasures of life: a hot meal, warm gloves, the company of friends and loved ones. Be mindful that not all enjoy these. Give generously this holiday season and reach out to those isolated through age or illness.
Be thankful that Americans can speak and think as they please, protected by the most precious of constitutional rights: freedom of speech. Be mindful in these turbulent times that the speech with which you most disagree is that which most needs defending against censure.
Be thankful that our culture appears to be at a turning point in its treatment of those victimized by sexual harassment. Be aware of what you can do and be mindful that accusers come forward often at great personal cost.
Be thankful that Minnesota got through the year without any large-scale natural disasters. Be mindful that others have not been as fortunate, particularly the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with heavy losses of life and property. They need your help.
Be thankful for diplomats who selflessly strive to peacefully project and protect U.S. interests worldwide. Be mindful that eroding support for — and even supply of — U.S. envoys may mean that diplomacy designed to prevent armed conflict will become increasingly difficult.
Be thankful for the Metro State University professor and students who set a $5,000 goal, then raised more than $70,000 for the Philando Castile school debt lunch fund in St. Paul. Be mindful that there are still too many children out there who need help to stave off hunger.
Be thankful for the writers and filmmakers who inform us about inspirational true stories such as “Hidden Figures,” the book and movie about black female NASA mathematicians and engineers from the 1950s and ’60s. Be mindful that gender, racial and cultural workplace disparity issues remain that must be addressed.
Be thankful that so many Minnesotans and others vigorously push back when racial and religious intolerance rears its ugly head. Residents of Delano, St. Cloud and school communities around the state, for example, rallied around their neighbors who were targeted in some way for being immigrants and people of color. Be mindful that continued vigilance and speaking out against hate and discrimination are still necessary to promote a free, fair society.
The Editorial Board is thankful for the Star Tribune’s loyal readers and advertisers. We are mindful that providing editorial leadership and thoughtful commentary that includes a wide range of opinions is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.