I’m writing this article sitting on the sidelines of my son’s baseball game. It’s an overly hot fall morning, the day after Yom Kippur, and I am thankful to be sitting here. The world is facing numerous serious challenges, often forcing people to remain indoors, in hiding, inside shelters or temporary housing, not knowing where their next meal is coming from or totally unable to access medical care. Yet here I am, enjoying the remnants of summer, watching my child play sports after having broken the fast last night with close friends and mounds of food.
How lucky we are to live in the United States of America! We are afforded access to education, to food, and to opportunity while we live in a democratic society that is easing its way towards true egalitarianism. Beyond all else—we are safe! We don’t go to sleep worrying about air raids or bombs in the middle of the night; we know that we have access to a continual supply of food, that healthcare is within miles of our homes and that our children have access to education.
We may fall upon hard times, lose a job, be diagnosed with a disease, make a wrong choice and get into trouble, but we are in a society that reaches out to help or take care of us. Nothing’s ever perfect, and there are definite flaws in the systems that protect us. When we stop to look at where we are, let’s pay attention to where we could be and show gratitude. Let’s be thankful for our basic human rights, for freedom, for democracy, for access to education and to healthcare, for the community in which we live, and most important, for those with whom we share our lives. If our focus is on progress rather than perfection, we may become more realistic with our expectations, helping us to find gratitude rather than imperfection! ✿
Sue Penn is a mother of three, Education Director at University Synagogue, president of Jewish Reconstructionist Educators of North America and a member of the Jewish Educators Assembly.