As we celebrate the season that is typically known as the “season of thankfulness,” most of us use this as a time to reflect on the previous year, where we were this time a year ago, where we went in our journey called life and where we are headed in that journey.

Several months ago, in the midst of a drain-circling bout of anxiety and depression, I reached out to my first and wisest mentor for advice on this recurring situation. The response was to write down seven things every hour that I was thankful for, for a time period of seven days. Oh, there was a catch — it had to be a different thing every hour; no repeats.

Naturally I started out with the big things surrounding me: my job, my girlfriend, my home, etc. But with the stipulation of not repeating items it became progressively more difficult and frustrating for the first few days. I’m awake around 16 hours a day and seven things I am thankful for is 112 unique items a day. Multiplied by seven days, that meant a whopping 784 unique items that I had to be thankful for.

After the first few days I noticed something different — by focusing on thankfulness, I experienced more happiness, and slowly the symptoms of anxiety and depression began to fade. There were also two outcomes that were unexpected: First, it didn’t become harder to complete the list, it became easier; second and even more unexpected, as the bigger things to be thankful for were written down and unavailable to use again, the smaller, more mundane details became easier to identify and be thankful for.

All of this helps to come to the main point: When we take time to be thankful for what we create around us as well as what already exists around us, we turn to an attitude of thankfulness.

H. Charles Girard, Champlin

DEMOCRACY

Enshrine the values of society, not your place in it. You’ll need them.

Mark Twain said, “Every civilization carries the seeds of its own destruction, and the same cycle shows in them all. The Republic is born, flourishes, decays into plutocracy, and is captured by the shoemaker whom the mercenaries and millionaires make into a king. The people invent their oppressors, and the oppressors serve the function for which they are invented.”

No one is more privileged than I am: white skin, male, over the age of 30, well-educated, straight, economically stable. However, no amount of hatred, no threats or marches, no laws or gerrymandering are going to enshrine that privilege forever. It’s not a plot by any other race or religion. It is simple math. Soon, the privileged few will be in the minority. It’s going to happen. And when that day comes, the only thing between me and oppression will be a strong civil society and a government of laws, not individuals. How we currently privileged people treat minorities now will be the model for how we are treated in the future. Out of an enlightened sense of self-interest, if not morality and a sense of decency, we white, currently privileged people need to demand laws and fiscal policy that protect and empower those who do not enjoy our present, temporary situation. Do what you can to make sure the disenfranchised are heard and have authority. Your future freedom depends on it.

Gary L. Brisbin, Fridley

IMPEACHMENT

Whoa, Democrats, slow down

The congressional Democrats seem hellbent on wrapping up the impeachment process by the end of the year. This is a monumental strategic blunder that will allow the GOP to hold a sham trial in the Senate, allow them to declare victory in a way that advances the president’s re-election campaign and increases the chances of the GOP retaining control of the Senate.

What has racing through the inquiry at this pace wrought? It has produced compelling testimony and uncontrovertible evidence resulting in no change in public support for impeachment! If the Democrats continue rushing through impeachment, the inevitable result will be a verdict of “not guilty” and President Donald Trump will be shouting from the rooftops that the witch hunt is over. Fiona Hill’s emotional testimony, along with all the rest of the testimony, will be about as impactful as an appendix of the Mueller report.

Instead, the impeachment committees should follow every lead, obtain every incriminating document and use the courts to compel key witnesses. The stated reason for not doing so seems to be that it will allow the GOP to drag out the proceeding. But given the certain outcome of rushing forward, what really is the downside of slowing down? If, for example, impeachment were to continue past the primary season, Trump’s ability to threaten wavering congresspeople would be neutralized. This would also reduce the interference to senators running for president, and might even provide time for former national security adviser John Bolton to see the advantage to his book sales of testifying.

Finally, in lieu of their inability to influence public opinion to date, the Democrats need to seriously rethink whether they really want to hand off articles of impeachment to Sen. Mitch McConnell. Instead, they should consider following the advice of Laurence Tribe, Harvard professor of constitutional law, and reach a verdict in the House and not refer articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Steven M. Pine, Hopkins

• • •

The growing list of endangered or threatened species is truly alarming. Along with the rusty patched bumblebee, the golden-winged warbler and many other plant and animal species that are in urgent need of protection, I’m sad to add one more endangered group that is disappearing at a frightening rate: Republicans who will put country over party.

Doug Williams, Robbinsdale

• • •

Our president attempted to block congressionally designated aid to Ukraine to get the political goods on an election opponent. He was stopped by a whistleblower. During last week’s hearings, the president’s supporters claimed that Ukraine eventually got the aid, so no big deal — no harm, no foul. They missed the point. Congress needs to impeach and remove Trump not for what he did to Ukraine, but for what he is doing to us. Trump’s actions strike at the heart of our democracy — assurance of fair elections free from cheating and foreign influence and the integrity of our constitutional system of checks and balances.

If Congress allows the president to get away with attempts to extort foreign powers for election dirt or assistance, none of us can reliably trust that the 2020 election or any election thereafter will be fair or reflect the true will of the people. If the president is allowed to obstruct Congress by blocking its right to subpoenaed witnesses, documents and records, then the president’s supporters will have effectively destroyed our system of checks and balances. Impeachment and removal are the only actions that can safeguard our democracy and protect us from corrupt or abusive leaders now or in the future.

Mary Chesney, Minneapolis

THE SNOW

He could’ve done us a favor, though

With the big holiday today and big shopping days coming up, could we not have gotten the president to break out his Sharpie and map and redirect the snowstorms this week?

Kent Smith, Eden Prairie

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