Editorials

A few Thanksgiving reflections

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This week, families across our state will gather to share turkey and stuffing and (hopefully) a Maine blueberry pie – but we all know the food won’t be the star of the show. No, what makes Thanksgiving truly special are the people gathered around the table, and the opportunity this day gives each of us reflect upon the things we are thankful for.

We have so much to be thankful for this year – even if the political climate makes it hard to recognize that. I know that Democrats, Republicans and independents alike currently find precious little to be thankful for in our national discourse, which as of late has been characterized by divisive issues. But I don’t believe that these divisions truly capture the character of our nation – to find what we’re really made of, look at how we react in times of crisis.

For a close-to-home example of such a crisis, look at the recent storms that left more than 400,000 people in Maine without power. Those homes that did have power did not isolate themselves; instead, homeowners opened up to their neighbors, offering warmth, electrical chargers, food and more while the linesmen worked diligently to restore service. When their community was in trouble, the people of Maine stepped up – and it’s not just a local phenomenon, as we saw during the recent hurricanes. Donations and supplies were sent to the affected areas from all across the country, and people from all over converged to help organize and rebuild.

That neighborly spirit is what defines America. This nation was built on groups of people from all different backgrounds and beliefs, working together toward a common goal. In creating a civilization, they relied on civility – something that our nation could always use more of, both in Washington and at the Thanksgiving table. The challenge we face is how to extend that good will past times of crisis, and into everyday life.

While I know the cardinal rule of a holiday dinner is no politics, I also know how often that rule is broken. So, when the first debate comes up, don’t frantically search for a wishbone to magically stop the conversation (it won’t work, I’ve tried). Instead, aim for eloquent listening, no matter which side you’re on. So much of the division in our country comes from the fact that both sides don’t feel heard. Listening can be an act of caring and respect, one that can start a healing process. And when the time comes for you to weigh in the debate, don’t respond confrontationally, but remember what unites us instead of focusing on what divides us. Remember the things in your life that you’re thankful for, and share them. Here, I’ll even start:

I’m thankful for my family and my friends, who fill my life with love and joy each and every day.

I’m thankful to call Maine, a state of immense natural beauty and even greater human kindness, my home.

I’m thankful (and humbled) that the people of Maine have entrusted me with the honor of serving on their behalf in Washington – an honor I take incredibly seriously.

Finally, I’m thankful to live in a nation where each generation builds on the work of their predecessors, striving toward our original goal “to form a more perfect union.”

Now: your turn!

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