This is the day when we talk the talk of good fortune and gratitude.
Perhaps, then, Friday should the day on which we make the commitment to walk the walk, add substance to those words of thanks so that they are not empty platitudes.
In South Florida, so many residents are setting the example. However, too many more have not made the time to emulate them. And the community suffers from their lack of civic engagement. But it’s never too late to make gratitude live out loud. It doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming, it can be as simple as writing a check, or giving a child a home, as dozens of South Florida families did last week on National Adoption Day.
1. Grateful for the democracy in which we live, flawed as it seems sometimes? Then vote. Americans have been battered, bloodied and killed to secure the right. Many immigrants were denied that right in their homelands — only to find, sadly, a new surge of legislative efforts across this country to snatch that right away. This only affirms just how precious it is. When elected officials are working hard to silence you, why make their job easier by silencing yourself?
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2. Grateful for our democracy? (Part 2): Give thanks for our armed forces, then find out how you can help better the life of a troubled veteran, a homeless man or woman who gave all in uniform, but who now needs an advocate; a former soldier whose PTSD is keeping him from living productively. Volunteer to help one-on-one. Too in your face? Lobby an elected representative to make sure that the VA gets its sorry act together or that mentally ill vets in crisis get treatment, not a jail cell. Our democracy thrives because they put their lives on the line.
3. Made it through the recession with a roof still over your head, mortgage not withstanding? Lucky you. Help other families achieve that same sense of security. Take a look at Bob Rosasco’s piece on today’s Other Views page. As the first president of Habitat for Humanity, he’s clear that a home of one’s own is more than four walls. It’s a place where dreams begin to soar. Volunteer to help them take flight.
4. Glad that you can complain about government without being thrown in jail? See 1 and 2, then step up and become a rabble-rouser. They’re out there doing good work on our behalf. Danielle Press, 27, almost died in a boating accident off Key Biscayne. She survived the severest of injuries and is now campaigning to make boating laws tougher. Gregory Bush, of the Urban Environment League, fights the worthy fight to keep public land public. Hermana Richardson’s son was murdered. Now she’s waging a public battle to change her community’s “no-snitch” culture to find her son’s killer. Take up a challenge and add your voice — loudly.
5. Taking your good health for granted? You must have insurance. Not everyone can be so sanguine, because not everyone is covered. It really, really makes sense — economically, morally and for the good of the community’s health — for the state of Florida to expand Medicaid to cover 1 million more residents. Look, we’re already paying boatloads of money to care for unfunded patients at their sickest. And the federal funds Florida has rejected — our money — is going to other states where the leaders have more common sense. Tell any recalcitrant state legislator that Obamacare is not the issue; the issue is that his constituent’s son just broke an arm and lacks coverage.
Put some action behind the gratitude. You just have to get started.