As we near an end to another year in news, the Star Tribune Editorial Board offers readers this partial list of the many things Minnesotans can be thankful for — and mindful of — on Thanksgiving Day 2015.
Be thankful for the staggering abundance of American life, reflected today on millions of brimming dinner tables and on long Christmas shopping lists ready for action on Black Friday (or even on Thursday night). Be mindful of need in the midst of this plenty and of the appalling poverty of billions around the world.
Be thankful for the huge reduction in crime over the past two decades. Be mindful, in view of the recent uptick in crime, that we don’t know what’s caused the improvement or what might reverse it.
Be thankful for the vast improvement in highway safety and reduction in drunken driving over many years. Be mindful that distracted driving is an ever-worsening hazard.
Be thankful for America’s, and Minnesota’s, comparatively robust economic conditions overall. Be mindful that not all regions of the state and nation, and not all parts of the world, are doing so well.
Be thankful for a justice system that by comparison historically and across the world is a model of openness, honesty and accountability. Be mindful that Minnesota’s unconstitutional sex offender program still falls far short of those ideals.
Be thankful that Minneapolis city officials have called for an independent investigation into the Jamar Clark shooting. Be mindful that it will require the community’s patience while the process plays out.
Be thankful for Minnesota’s wealth of natural resources — its lakes, rivers, forests, fertile fields and minerals. Be mindful of the need for energetic stewardship to protect these resources for future generations’ enjoyment and prosperity.
Be thankful for Minnesota’s many strong schools and thousands of dedicated teachers. Be mindful of the ongoing obligation to ensure that all students, including those in the Bureau of Indian Education system, have school buildings that are safe and promote learning.
Be thankful that, overall, Minnesota students continue to do well based on most national achievement measures. Be mindful that too many children of color are lagging their white counterparts.
Be thankful that Minnesota was ranked the No. 1 state for children by the Casey Foundation this year. Be mindful that 14 percent of kids in the state are living in poverty.
Be thankful for Minnesota’s world-class medical providers and hospitals. Be mindful there’s still work to do to ensure that all Minnesotans have access to the care and medicines needed to help them remain active, contributing members of their communities.
Be thankful for vaccines that protect children from diseases that once claimed millions of young lives. Be mindful that too many parents have forgotten the risks and, because of misinformation, are not protecting their children with these vital safeguards.
Be thankful for our constitutional freedom to speak one’s mind. Be mindful that with this liberty comes inherent responsibilities: having informed opinions and responding with respect, not personal attacks, to those with differing viewpoints.
Be thankful for leaders who take a strong stand on principles they think will lead the state to a better future. Be mindful that principle can harden into rigidity and an unwillingness to compromise for the greater good.
Be thankful for Minnesota’s compassion for the frail and vulnerable, as reflected in gains for nursing homes and mental health treatment in the 2015 legislative session. Be mindful that some developmentally disabled people lack opportunities for fulfilling lives.
Be thankful that Minnesota has built a reputation as a welcoming place where refugees can make a fresh start. Be mindful that the fears of those who worry that such hospitality could jeopardize our safety run deep and merit consideration.
Be thankful for the best summer and fall weather in memory. Be mindful of the changing climate’s potential for weather disruption.
Be thankful for a bountiful harvest. Be mindful of low commodity prices.
Be thankful for a table full of bounty, surrounded by loved ones. Be mindful that not all share in such abundance and that your most appreciated gift may be to someone you don’t even know.
We are thankful for the loyal readers and advertisers who support the Star Tribune. We are mindful that providing high-quality news coverage and thoughtful opinion journalism is a commitment that must never be taken lightly.