Dozens of people were murdered at a concert. Children and their parents were gunned down at a church, then another madman shot up an elementary school. Some were killed and thousands displaced by wildfires and hurricanes. Around the world we have North Korea with nuclear weapons, earthquakes and other natural disasters, and persecution, hunger and poverty unfathomable to most people in the U.S.
Continuous, vivid coverage of this pain and despair is available all day every day on endless loops, courtesy of 24-hour cable news stations.
With Thanksgiving tomorrow,, many Americans feel more distraught and fearful than thankful this year.
Like a refining fire that separates impurities from gold, though, dark times can have beautiful results. Tragedies reveal resilience, strength, compassion and kindness. The ones who lost homes and businesses show us resilience as they begin to rebuild the structures and their lives. The ones who lost children, wives, husbands, parents, friends and other loved ones show incomprehensible strength by simply going on.
The rest of us, the witnesses to the events and the response of those affected most, marvel in their strength and resolve to not give up. We mourn with those who mourn and cry with those who cry, and we try to help, sometimes feeling inept to make a difference in the face of such overwhelming grief. This compassion leads to kindnesses that leave a positive, lasting impression.
For example, in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, a man from Illinois constructed 58 crosses and drove them to the memorial site outside Mandalay Bay casino as a tribute to those who were murdered in the early hours of Oct. 2. Well-known bands are performing benefit concerts with proceeds going to relief efforts in Northern California. Last weekend a group of Tri-Valley businesses and a lot of donors and volunteers held one of the many local fund-raisers to help fire and hurricane victims rebuild.
These efforts will be remembered, as will the small kindnesses seen in the past months, whether it be offers to take in displaced families and animals or meals bought for fire evacuees.
The strength and resilience. The kindness and compassion. The coming together of people regardless of their race, religion, educational level, income or party affiliation to help and comfort total strangers. That is what to be thankful for this year.