Last spring, as farmers faced the possibility of a third year of drought, hundreds of citizens gathered at a Burke County church to lift up prayers for rain. The event received local news coverage and community support, as did dozens of other such vigils around the state.
A couple of weeks after the event, the drought broke with a series of gentle showers that, while not bringing the state out of its deficit, at least eased the water shortage enough for farmers to have a productive summer.
Afterward, there were no prayer meetings called to give thanks. While reporters and TV cameras and weather forecasters marked the rains fall, none of them returned to the ministers and church-going citizens to ask if they were now ready to express prayerful gratitude for a granted request.
Human nature, even when played out in a religious setting, is like that. We tend to be more eager to ask for things than to appreciate what we have, or to be thankful when our bounty comes. It is a sign of all times that one of the best-selling books in recent months has been a guide to prayer that calls on its adherents to make extravagant wishes; there is no corresponding series of books urging readers to engage in an outpouring of thanks.
The attitude of ingratitude isnt likely to change. Even 2,000 years ago, Luke records the story of Jesus healing 10 lepers; only one returned to express his thanks, leaving Jesus to ask what happened to the others.
Those nine modeled the behavior of which we all are guilty. The season of Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday, threatens every year to become overwhelmed by the Christmas marketing juggernaut. Not even the holiday itself is sacred any more; increasingly, stores are open all or part of Thanksgiving day so Christmas shoppers, their stomachs full of dining excess, can trundle out to get a jump on holiday spending.
Inevitable as it seems, that doesnt mean we shouldnt at least take a few minutes to be thankful for the freedom to indulge, the freedom to receive, and the freedom to give thanks - or not - of our own free will. In the meantime, Columbia County residents have much to be thankful for:
Our taxes, compared to other similar counties in Georgia, are relatively low. Our law enforcement is exemplary, and our schools are first-rate - all provided through citizens contributions in the form of taxes that really do give us the best bang for our bucks.
Columbia Countys patriotism is unparalleled. Long before the fad of window-mounted flags, broad support for our military was evident in everything from the large number of military retirees making this area home, to the heavy participation in JROTC programs in our schools. It helps that thousands of Fort Gordon civilian and military workers are county residents.
Even our disagreements generally are handled amicably. A citizens complaint about horses and last years debate about the rain tax brought out their share of ugly remarks, but even at their worst the confrontations were milder than the average schoolyard argument.
Before Thanksgiving gluttony precedes the Christmas consumption orgy, Columbia County citizens should pause to give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy. If there is a better place to live, we havent found it yet. Lets appreciate our own community, right here - today, tomorrow and every day.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.