The Spirit of Thanksgiving is really about neighbors helping neighbors

For too many Americans, the last three Thanksgivings have been pretty lean. Our nation is suffering from the longest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

For too many Americans, the last three Thanksgivings have been pretty lean. Our nation is suffering from the longest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Particularly worrisome is an online survey by The Enumclaw Courier-Herald that found two out of three people believe the true spirit of Thanksgiving has been forgotten. That is discouraging.

There is plenty of depressing news these days to justify that attitude.

One in 10 workers is drawing unemployment and, when you add the number of people whose unemployment benefits have been exhausted or who have given up looking for work, the figure is nearly one in five.

Our debt-ridden federal, state and local governments are not in a position to swoop in and save the day.

Our national debt continues to skyrocket, and our federal government is borrowing money at record rates from countries like China. In fact, David Walker, comptroller general under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, says if we don’t change our ways, in 2040 our entire federal budget will go to paying just the interest on our national debt.

Particularly troubling is the fact that federal taxes are poised to increase next year. The Bush tax cuts are set to expire and the death tax returns to its 2001 level, where grieving relatives must pay more than half the value of the family business or farm to the federal tax collector.

States like Washington are between a rock and a hard spot. Unlike the feds, we can’t print money or borrow from China. When the Legislature comes to Olympia in January, it faces a $5.7 billion deficit. That’s like a family facing rising household expenses with 18 percent less money in the bank.

So how do we get out of this funk?

First, we must stop looking to government to save us. Federal bailouts are short-term fixes that don’t solve the problem. As workers in the Tri-Cities are beginning to realize, a year from now the $1.9 billion from the feds to speed up the Hanford nuclear reservation clean up disappears, along with more than 1,300 jobs.

Second, we need to bring back the Thanksgiving spirit. We must remember that the first Thanksgiving – in Plymouth, Mass. in 1621 – was a time when pilgrims and Native Americans gathered to share the bountiful harvest and give thanks.

Today, there are many examples of communities, churches and people coming together in that same spirit of sharing and helping.

For example, Sallie DeBoer formed Network Ministry in Sammamish to give homeless people “a hand up, not a handout.” Network Ministry depends on people in the community to donate cars, furniture, housing and other essentials and doesn’t rely on government funding.

In Vancouver, Marie Ferderer, a long-time parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, is collecting 700 pairs of gloves for the homeless who come to an over flow homeless shelter at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. A network of parishioners of different faiths open the doors of St. Paul’s during the cold fall and winter months to provide a meal, a shower, a bed and warm clothes – again without government assistance.

Many people are filling food baskets during the holidays and many businesses, schools, hospitals, churches and union halls have erected giving trees. The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is also underway. All are worthwhile projects we can be thankful for.

The key to turning this funk into a positive spirit of hope is to return to the principle of neighbor helping neighbor, and realize that we are stronger for it – as individuals and as a nation.

Don Brunell is the president of the Association of Washington Business.

More in Opinion

More information needed on proposed recycling site

We want to bring awareness to your readers about a 34 acre wood recycling center that is in the permitting process with King County.

North neighbors keep a close eye on the U.S.

How much do you know about Canada? If you’re like most Americans, not much.

Trickle-down equation may not add up, Dems say

A tax overhaul plan drawn up by Republicans in Congress will be a good deal for many households, though not every one, or nearly every one, as promised by its authors.

America’s monster

I’m not sure when it happened, but I recently realized I’ve stopped asking myself, “What are we going to do about mass shootings and gun violence in this country?” Instead, I now ask, “When is the carnage going to come to Enumclaw?”

Avoiding loss means more than gaining something else

Some studies have shown that losses are twice as psychologically powerful as gains. American history and our current political situation help reveal a great deal about the American/human psyche.

Congratulations, Jan Molinaro

In every election, one person must win and the other will lose. Now more than ever, it is important to show our children how to be gracious in victory and humble in defeat.

Don’t give into the pressure of driving drowsy

Eleven years ago, a drowsy-driving car wreck left me with injuries that still challenge me today.

Baxley and Young should have showed up at public forum

On Tuesday, October 17th, was the Black Diamond Maple Valley Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum, where the Black Diamond candidates for Mayor and two City Council positions had the opportunity to talk with the citizens of Black Diamond, and to answer questions put to them by these citizens.

Issues to be addressed in Enumclaw elections

Who should I vote for in the Enumclaw City Council and mayoral races?

Enumclaw helped raise $3,500 for Special Olympics

The last couple of weekends the St. Barbara Knights of Columbus have been involved with our annual Tootsie Roll Program.

Court grapples with school funding

When the legal battle on education funding returned to the state Supreme Court Tuesday, the leader of Washington’s public school system was closely monitoring this installment of the McCleary drama from his office down the street.

Baxley is an important choice for Black Diamond mayor

Judy Baxley has been part of our local civics for years, and thank goodness because citizen involvement is critical to monitoring big developers.