A time for gratitude but not for repose

  • Article by: EDITORIAL BOARD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 27, 2013 - 6:17 PM

Today we celebrate thankfully but also reflect on challenges.

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Once again this Thanksgiving, the Editorial Board is reminded that Minnesotans have much to be thankful for — and much to be mindful of — as we approach the end of another eventful year in the news. Here’s a partial list, offered in the spirit of giving thanks.

Be grateful for the material abundance, by any historical or global comparison, that most enjoy in modern America. Be mindful that too many remain hungry in the midst of a society earnestly debating when exactly stores should open to launch the holiday shopping season.

Be grateful for the freedom of American life — to lead the life one chooses and to speak one’s mind. Be mindful that our public debate has grown harsh and nonconstructive in recent years.

Be grateful for the continued sacrifices of our armed forces — including many Minnesota National Guard members deployed overseas — and for the planned drawdown from Afghanistan in 2014. Be mindful that some of those who return home will struggle with mental health issues and unemployment.

Be grateful for the diplomatic progress in addressing chronic crises in the Middle East. Be mindful that the deep roots of the problems defy easy solutions.

Be grateful for news of the near eradication of polio, a reminder of the wonderful advances of modern medicine. Be mindful that billions around the world still lack basic sanitation — the foundation of longer life spans in the modern age.

Be grateful for the humane responses to disasters in the United States and around the world. Be mindful that “compassion fatigue” must be overcome to help the victims and their communities fully recover.

Be grateful for Boston’s resiliency after the marathon bombing. Be mindful of the continuing suffering of the victims.

Be grateful that in this era of sharp partisan divides, there is increasing consensus about the need to address human sex trafficking. Be mindful that this is a global problem that requires broader solutions.

Be grateful for the selection of Pope Francis, who is leading the Catholic Church in a more inclusive direction. Be mindful that the church has much work to do to fully embrace diversity and hold its own accountable for misdeeds.

Be grateful for people like Paul Williams in California, Shannon Baker in Indiana and Glen James in Boston, who all found large sums of money and returned it even though they were financially struggling themselves. Be mindful that more of us need to reach out and help those who are less fortunate.

Be grateful that Minnesota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation and that median incomes are rising. Be mindful that underemployment remains a problem for many workers and that minimum-wage workers need a raise.

Be grateful that foreclosure rates are down. Be mindful that homelessness is a growing problem statewide, especially among two-parent families.

Be grateful for our state’s abundant natural resources. Be mindful that these gifts come with an obligation of stewardship so that these resources are protected for the generations to come.

Be grateful that Minnesotans value the arts. Be mindful that there is no solution in sight for long-running labor dispute that threatens the future of the Minnesota Orchestra.

Be grateful that same-sex couples can marry in Minnesota. Be mindful that too many U.S. citizens in other states still lack the basic right of marriage.

Be grateful that MNsure, the state’s health exchange, got off to a respectable start. Be mindful that the promise of the Affordable Care Act is a long way from being fulfilled.

Be grateful for the new public funds being invested in education in Minnesota. Be mindful that it will take more than money to close the achievement gap.

Be grateful for a year without significant tornadoes and floods in our region. Be mindful that extreme weather is increasingly common, and that we’ve done little to address climate change.

Be grateful for the leadership of retiring Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and re-elected St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Be mindful that Minneapolis Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges and new school board and City Council members in both cities face important challenges and have much to learn.

Be grateful for the election of a record number of immigrants (five) to school board and City Council seats in Minneapolis and St. Paul this fall. Be mindful that too many new Americans still face anti-immigrant bias.

Be grateful that trains will soon be running on the Central Corridor light-rail line. Be mindful that tough decisions about transit, including the fate of the Southwest light-rail line, lie ahead for the Twin Cities.

Be grateful that Downtown East may soon boast a new Vikings stadium, promising mixed-use development and a park that would bring new life to Minneapolis. Be mindful that there likely will be more hurdles to come for these projects.

Be grateful that Gophers football coach Jerry Kill and his team have been able to prove the critics wrong by overcoming early-season adversity to post a winning record. Be mindful that what the coach has taught us about epilepsy is more important than wins and losses.

Be grateful that the world champion Minnesota Lynx continue to demonstrate the wisdom of equalizing men’s and women’s athletics. Be mindful that while athletic barriers have fallen for women, economic obstacles remain.

Be grateful for the willingness of several high-profile actors, journalists and others to share their battles with cancer to raise awareness. Be mindful that researchers will succeed in finding new treatments only if they have the necessary support.

Be grateful for friends and family who come together to celebrate today. Be mindful of the need to treasure traditions passed down to us, but also of the need to have the flexibility to create new traditions going forward.

We are grateful for our loyal readers and advertisers, who have made this another successful year for the Star Tribune. And we are mindful that we must earn your trust every day and never take your loyalty for granted.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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