Two days from now, we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. At first glance there seems little to be thankful for given the chaos in our society.
The working poor in America face daily hunger because their wages are not sufficient to cover rent, utility bills and food but they make “too much” money to qualify for public assistance. Not surprisingly, a rising number of people believe capitalism is a failed economic system that benefits only insiders, according to a recent survey in The Economist magazine. The most anti-capitalist are young people just entering the workforce.
Our recent mid-term election has brought the threat of more chaos. The prospect of Democratic control of the House of Representatives has caused our president to unleash shrill tweets filled with paranoiac fear and conspiracy theories about how everyone is out to get him.
On November 13th, the FBI released their annual report on hate crimes showing a 17% increase from 2016 to 2017. The most common hate crimes are based on race, ethnicity or ancestry. The second most common category is religion, closely followed by sexual orientation. These statistics are borne out by recent mass shootings against religious and ethnic minorities.
Last week the National Rifle Association sued Washington State to block a new law that bans the sale of fully automatic weapons to anyone under the age of 21. The NRA apparently believes an 18-year-old kid should be allowed to buy a weapon that can kills dozens of people in minutes even if that same kid can’t buy his own beer for another three years.
All of these headlines left me feeling deeply depressed and wondering why I should feel thankful on Thursday. But then I took a closer look.
Social engagement has increased with hundreds of groups trying to solve problems ranging from climate change to eradicating hunger to opposing intolerance. Younger people are more relaxed by racial integration and sexual orientation. White supremacists and other haters are a tiny percentage of the population who cannot win their battle against demographics and decency.
Political engagement has also increased as voters actually showed up to vote and mostly rejected the nuts of the left and the right. Most importantly, young voters showed up at the polls in large numbers for the first time, having finally recognized that marches aren’t enough; voting is what counts in a democracy.
I see many dark days ahead as our society struggles to adapt to gut-wrenching economic, political and social changes. But amid the chaos, I am thankful this year because I also see signs of hope for our future.
About Norma Shirk
My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy. To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my new history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).
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