As I write this post, giving thanks, just a few weeks after an election in which I found relatively little to cheer, I feel like all of us could use some good thanking, and thankful-being, right about now.
So, here’s my 2010 thankful list, but I’d like to hear yours, too. What are you thankful for at this moment, as we start to look to 2011, and the uncertainties of what the new year will bring, and as we reflect back on a year of both triumphs and disappointments?
A successful example of consumer advocacy: Craigslist cancelled their adult services section this year, under pressure from anti-human trafficking activists who pointed out how the website was used to facilitate the sale of human beings. No, it’s not a complete victory; activists point out that the activity will move to other parts of the Internet, but, still, it’s a company listening to its consumers and taking the right stand. THANKFUL
Health care reform: Yes, it’s imperfect and incomplete. And, yes, it’s under attack. But, as I facilitated a strategic planning session for a network of anti-poverty organizations in October, I was struck by the conversation around unmet needs in the area of health, which mostly focused around access to quality, affordable mental and oral health services. I mean, two years ago, we wouldn’t even have gotten around to talking about mental health, because people were going bankrupt all over the place trying to get needed physical health care. Health care reform is a game-changer, and, if we stay in the game long enough, we’ll see that. THANKFUL
A Kansas budget agreement that stopped the worst of the cuts: Again, 2011 is going to be long and tough, with a hardline anti-tax legislature and one of the most conservative governors in the country, but 2010 was an example of reasonable policymakers from both parties coming together to make the best out of a bad situation. It reduced the pain for social services and education, and even expanded the state Earned Income Tax Credit at the same time. We’re in a better place heading into next year than we would have been. THANKFUL
California federal district court ruling on gay marriage: I really believe that equal rights for gays and lesbians is a major civil rights issue of our time, one on which we’ll look back, a generation from now, with considerable shame and a little confusion (what were people so angry about, anyway?). I don’t trust this Supreme Court as far as I can throw them, but I still don’t see how anyone can read the Equal Protection clause and think gay marriage bans are OK. We’re set up for a decisive battle. THANKFUL.
The community of concern that arose in response to Arizona’s ill-conceived, morally nightmarish, repugnant racial profiling law (masquerading as an “anti-illegal immigration” measure): Sometimes, those who oppose human rights do something so audacious that they’re then surprised by the backlash. We saw it in 2006 with the passage of HR4437 (which would have made it a felony to help an undocumented immigrant in any way), and we saw it in Arizona, too. We still have a long way to go to win public support for humane and sensible immigration policies in this country, but seeing political cartoons and late-night talk shows and mainstream politicians disavow the Arizona approach is heartening. Sometimes we come together by standing against a common enemy. THANKFUL
Students who have persevered with me through these initial experiments in online learning, and who continue to challenge me to not just learn more but also discover new ways of communicating what I know. I can’t imagine my life without teaching, now. THANKFUL
People who help me raise my kids: You know who you are, Miss Beth at our local public library, and Marla the administrative assistant at our School and just about all of our neighbors. I’m thankful for all that you do, to care for kids not your own and, in so doing, to show their Mommy your commitment to the collective endeavor of raising the next generation. Thank you, too, to the lady who makes faces at the twins while we’re waiting in a long checkout line and to the man who holds the door for us. I couldn’t do it without you. THANKFUL
The three most amazing kids in the world: I’m thankful when Sam uses “person-first” language (as in, “why would someone without a disability ever park in a spot for someone with a disability?” Why, indeed, Sam.), when he asks me how to say something in Spanish, and when he wants to talk about war. I’m thankful when Ella gets her brother his pajamas when he’s too tired to cope, and when Ben asks for two of everything to give one to his sister. I’m thankful for their smiles and even their demands, which remind me that policy failures and election disappointments are, while important, decidedly not everything. THANKFUL
Learning to make good homemade apple pie: I had two pieces on November 2. I’ll be making many more come January. The crust is delicious. THANKFUL
People who actually read what used to fill up my brain and spin around in my soul: I’m thankful for readers who ask me questions and give me answers, and who are willing to be companions on this journey towards justice. I am a different person than when I started this blog a year and a half ago, and, for that, I am thankful.
What are you thankful for?