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Wormsby: Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful

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Hollis Wormsby, Jr
By Hollis Wormsby

2018 has been a difficult for many people.  The struggles to find a way to maintain a job, to manage family, to navigate an increasingly hostile world, at times seems to be insurmountable.  The country is more divided than ever, and even in the black community we see divisions between young and old, rich and poor, liberal and moderate.  It seems like for most of my life when we faced these challenges a leader would emerge who could bridge the gaps and find some common cause that everyone could rally around, but I am still waiting.

There are many that refer to today’s young people as entitled. And it is undeniable that different values are being embraced today than in times past, and in my opinion we are becoming progressively less spiritual and incrementally more materialistic.  As we become more materialistic, we also seem to become more-angry when we can’t amass the material rewards we feel we so rightly deserve.  And in our anger, there is little room to waste time finding anything to be thankful for.

I once worked for a man who after enduring seven and half years of horrific torture in a North Vietnamese prison camp said upon returning to the United States, “I am grateful for the opportunity to have served my country under the most difficult of circumstances.”

I once had the chance to talk to him about what he meant by that comment and he essentially said that when he was in the prison camp and under the control of his cruel handlers that his only joy was in taking actions to show his captors they could not take away his mind or his sense of love for his country. He noted that he could have been bitter, but in his mind that would have been an insult to God for all he had done for him.  And he mentioned his family, his friends, the accomplishments he was proud of.  And he noted that the difficult times define who we are probably more than the good times.

As we approach another Thanksgiving it may be a good time to take a step back and remember all the blessings we have enjoyed in this world. You may have lost a job this year. You may be in a marriage that is failing or have any number of setbacks. But maybe you should also remember all the times you have gone to the Homegoing celebration of a relative or friend and someone said, ‘I am sure they are in a better place.’  If you can’t find anything else to be thankful for, thank God He hasn’t called you to that better place yet.

A thankful person lives a different, less bitter life.  We need to be thankful not just to God or for our country, but also for the little things we take for granted every day.  There were over a hundred homicides in Birmingham last year, and you weren’t one of them.  Thank you, Lord.   You have children that you love, and they have come home safe each and every day of this year.  Thank you, Lord.  And it isn’t just adults that have forgotten how to be thankful, it is also the children we didn’t teach to be thankful.

For my young readers, if you have family that care about you, put your needs in front of their own.  Thank you, Lord.  This week we have seen at least two cases of children who didn’t seem to be loved and protected.  There was a little girl found walking on Palisades Drive, looking uncared for and disheveled.  Seeing that child’s sad face in the newspaper almost broke my heart.  And there was the two-year boy, who lost his life to a single gunshot wound.  So again, for you young people, if you have people who care enough to set boundaries and do their best to create a protective wall around you.  Thank you, Lord.

On Thanksgiving Day, no matter what the challenges you may be facing, try to find at least a moment to show your gratitude for what life has allowed for you.  And it isn’t just thanking God, it is thanking all who have a positive impact on your life.  Even in the most difficult of times we still have things to be thankful for, and our willingness to see these things and express our gratitude will, in my opinion, reduce our frustration and our anger.  Or at least that’s the way I see it.

(Hollis Wormsby has served as a featured columnist for the Birmingham Times for more than 29 years.  He is the former host of Talkback on 98.7 KISS FM and of Real Talk on WAGG AM.  If you would like to comment on this column you can email him at hjwormsby@aol.com)