It’s so easy to complain about things. I’m noticing that the News has been focusing even more on the negative than I remember it doing in the past. With all that’s said about those in Public Service positions, we were fortunate that the guys who founded the country were who they were.  I now see that it takes a lot more to found and run a democracy than it probably does to run other forms of government.  The only ones who may have been less than well treated at the very beginning were the Native Americans who didn’t have the concept of owning property and people with darker skin because the British Isles folk hadn’t had experience with them and probably feared them because they appeared different. This is a phenomenon I’ll admit I’ve never been able to grasp.  Our skin color is just a progression from off white or light beige to blackish brown or warm dark brown. I never got why that was a big deal. We didn’t feel that light skinned people with black hair were lower class than light skinned people with blond hair.  All this said, I think you’ll agree that most of our founders were caring men.

One thing I know is that when people look down on others they often have to keep checking that they have none of the traits of the people they’re looking down on.  That can lead to thinking, “If other people can be inferior to me who am I inferior too?” Why measure? Why is any skin or hair color inferior to any other? I truly think that all prejudice (pre – judge) comes from fear. In the work I do I meet almost no one who feels truly great about themselves in all areas. It’s, actually, become considered a bit “off” to feel totally great about one’s self – a bit conceited and self absorbed.  However, as my great undergraduate professor, Milton Konvitz would say, The Second Commandment was the most important piece of advice in our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Then he said, “If you look around you, you’ll see that everyone does love their neighbor exactly the way they love themselves. “ I quote this often. It reminds me that we’re all one species and if I get annoyed with someone, it makes me look at myself. We all have our baggage and under it all, we’re all good. Again – we all have some unlearning to do.

But, I digress – I think, for the most part, the tenets that were the underlying pillars of our society in the land we call America, were amazing, given what had happened on our planet before we were set up. Having minds like Benjamin Franklin, born to a working class household and Thomas Jefferson born to a wealthy family and George Washington, born to a wealthy planter family all had a solid grasp on uniting the concepts of need to balance running a community with allowing individual freedom.  When I can be grateful for being born in a country that had that foundation I can breath and feel warm to myself for seeing their value. For those of you who came to this country from other countries that may not have been based on such solid credos as America was based on if you can see what fear (it’s always fear) may have caused the leaders of the countries you had to leave to govern the way they did and understand their humanity and forgive them and be grateful you’re here now – you’ll be able to be more at ease with yourself and more grateful.

If you don’t agree with some of the policies that have evolved, if you can forgive the creators of those policies and be grateful that you can see differently, you’ll feel good about yourself. That doesn’t mean that you need to work to support the policies you disagree with. A contraire!  It just means that you can understand that the people who developed them had to be troubled to develop them.

I’m writing this for you – not for the ones you may be forgiving. Look at all you have to be grateful for, for being in America. Use the country for your benefit and for the benefit of others. If everyone does that we’ll all celebrate. You can begin Saying YES to YOU this holiday.