Editorial: Let's all lift a glass

Lisa Yates @Lisa_editor

Sitting down with friends and family today on Thanksgiving, the custom is to pause for a moment and give thanks for our many blessings.

It's an important tradition now more than ever to stop and reflect. That's because in today's world things happen way too fast. We barely solve one problem when two new problems pop up to take its place.

The simple practice of gratitude can help get us through these stressful times. Gratitude makes things better. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It can turn existence into a real life and disconnected situations into important and beneficial life lessons.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for a better tomorrow.

If you need help with the toasts, I'll share a few of my own. Here we go. Let's all lift a glass:

To the teachers who've remained focused on one thing – the next generation of children – despite withering support for public education in Louisiana. Unlike many legislators, teachers know that there's more to education than preparing students for standardized tests. They partner with parents to prepare young people for the challenges of modern life. It's not just about preparing for an occupation. Although having a job and earning a living is necessary, our teachers do so much more. They prepare the next generation to become more fully human.

To the poets, artists and musicians because they, too, help us to discover what it is to be fully human. They help us to find truth, God or love through new eyes. The artists show us that everything is a teacher – a dead leaf, a bird in flight, the drop of a tear, the rich and the poor, those who are crying, the smile of a woman. Life is our teacher. We are in a constant state of learning.

To the poor, the sick and the homeless because they force us to look at ourselves and ask: What can I do to make life better for other human beings? Mother Teresa said the poor in our country are different from elsewhere. She said the poor here are shut out from society, feeling unwanted, unloved and terrified. We treat them as less than human. Maybe it's because we don't believe it can happen to us. The truth is it can. Even Donald Trump in one of his books said any number of things can wipe out a fortune as large as his, including lawsuits and large medical expenses.

Only by becoming sensitive to the struggles of the poor, the sick and the homeless can we become better human beings and create a better society.

To the elderly – our senior citizens – because old is gold. I think it's shameful the way some people treat the elderly with such contempt. I want to scream: This will be you someday! Maybe these folks didn't have a wise grandmother like mine. She taught my brother and me to respect our elders. As a society, we need to do just that. In the book "Healthy Aging," Dr. Andrew Weil said many things get better with age, for example, wine, whiskey, trees and violins. He joked saying how ridiculous it would be to have Botox for trees. The doctor is right, young trees aren't nearly as beautiful as the large gnarled ones which have weathered many storms. As we age, our faces reveal our approach to life. Some have radiant faces that are quick to smile; others have permanently scowling faces that show a lifetime of misery and ingratitude for the blessings of life. What do you want your face to say as it ages?

To the victims of Hurricane Isaac who are still struggling to get their property back to normal. It's a small comfort, but we are grateful that you have survived the storm.

To our troops overseas and those who've come home, we recognize your sacrifice and the even larger sacrifice made by your buddies who won't be returning home.

To our public servants, past and present, we salute you for your service to our city, state and country. It takes a lot of courage to represent folks, knowing you cannot please everyone 100 percent of the time. We trust that those of you elected, or re-elected, will do your best for the citizens. We hope that your vision will extend to future generations because they will benefit, or be harmed, from your actions.

To the voters who turned out for the election on Nov, 6, don't forget there's another election, Dec. 8, to select judges for both the Louisiana Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. Several districts will also decide whether or not to renew taxes on propositions concerning road lighting and fresh water. Early voting begins Saturday, Nov. 24, and continues Monday, Nov. 26, through Saturday, Dec. 1.

And finally, a toast to you and your family, wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Lisa Yates is the editor of Gonzales Weekly Citizen. Follow her on Twitter @Lisa_editor.