This letter from my heart is simply an attempt to ratchet-up by a huge amount, the level and intensity of Thanks-Giving to God and/or to the many of our fellow mankind who love to give, of themselves, their time, energy, talents, goods, encouragement, etc. and so on. Also to increase the amount of sacrificial giving, especially of those who have a lot. And also to see a large increase in the grateful attitude of those who are truly in need and do receive from us.

Even to be thankful to our government that has put in place all of the societal mechanisms to make it possible for people to give, with and even above their taxes, to those in need. Even thanks for the fact that there are taxes and donations making it available for all who are in the American Family to get help when needed. I sincerely apologize for those who not only are not very appreciative and in fact clearly demonstrate their insistent desire to take advantage and “abuse the system” for their own benefit, but also for those who feel we have no business giving near as much as we do to those to whom we do give, regardless of who is receiving. When they need it then it may not be found. Or for those who feel that they are somehow “entitled” to whatever they think they should have just because they are Americans, as well as human beings. It’s the attitude we all find offensive, not the giving. Just like so many people who are upset with what is happening in Iraq and want us to get out of there, for many of them it is a matter of why should we die for those who do not seem to appreciate what has been done for them, and who in fact want us to die.

Here is some more to think about, especially now that we’re at the time of year when Thanks-Giving is around the corner. To all those who identify themselves as Christians, there are almost one hundred passages in the Bible that not only tell us who represent God to give liberally to the poor, and defend them when they are taken advantage of, and many more applications, but it also is quite clear how God feels about and towards those who are blessed by him and who refuse to give sacrificially. Including to un-wed mothers, widows, orphans, the disabled, the elderly, etc. Reaping what is sown, good or bad, may take a while to come back around for some, but it will come back, it always does. And for those who have received a lot of assistance, whether money or goods, or services, etc. either once or especially many times over, a whole lot more obvious genuine appreciation would help those who give as well as those of you who receive. I’m not just referring only to Social Services and those sources similar to them, but also even those who get discounts on goods and services, or even health insurance for example.

I’m well aware that most health insurance is not affordable to most but if you were to take a look at what you would have been paying without it, as many have to do, or just to see what is charged and what the goods and services cost, you certainly will be wonderfully thankful and appreciative that you even have it, as expensive as it is. I am currently out of work due to an on the job injury and my wife is disabled. I sat down one day and figured out just how much I would have had to pay for prescriptions alone just over the past ten years and I was astounded at how much of a discount I have been given from my source of prescription benefit, compared to what it would have been otherwise. I know I would not have been able to afford ninety percent of those prescriptions. I haven’t yet looked at all of the other areas I could calculate but that one alone was enough to make me step back and make a special effort to be Thankful.

Finally, here’s an idea to help those who have received, in all the ways I’ve mentioned and more, be far more overtly in making a point to be appreciative, first to God who sits above all of these “needs and deeds” and keeps account, but also to those who give, especially sacrificially. Compile a list of what you would have had to pay for the things you were either given free or at a discount or, as in the case of health insurance, what you would pay without it. Remember, I’m trying to ratchet-up a few notches the desire to be more grateful than ever. My family and I from time to time have had to make use of the different sources of goods and services to help us along. Yes, I know that we pay too much for medical and health coverage, and the insurance industry does not need as high of a profit margin as they get. Yes I know that the pharmaceutical industry charges way more than they should as well. Yes I know that CEO’s generally rake the public in general in too many cases by the size of their salaries and bonuses, etc. Yes I know that white collar crime and corruption is rampant in our society and culture. Yes I know that the oil companies and a whole number of others are doing the same. Even our taxes are not being spent as prudently and as responsibly as they should be making us want to have practically no more taxes. But which one of these facts I’ve listed is a legitimate enough reason to not be thankful to God and to the others who are not participating in the gouging of humankind in the name of good-business-sense, or good marketing. I venture to say there is not one reason powerful enough to keep any of us from being way more thankful than we have ever been and do some things to make it better.

I heard I think it was Warren Buffet and Bill Gates on T.V. one day saying that they feel the rich should be taxed more than they are. Of course we would all want to wrangle over who is in that category but I also saw on T.V. one night how there are more and more people becoming millionaires in the west and all around the world. Of course not as fast as there are those becoming poor mind you but the tax base of the rich is increasing, and even though many of them are already into philanthropy, a great many aren’t. It was meant for those who have to sacrificially give to those who have not. So that we can be more divinely blessed and blessed in our souls. I also feel that there are way too many who want to make the needy jump through too many hoops, as they say, to see if they are worthy of a blessing. [ I’m not referring to social services such as food stamps, etc. ] If it looks as though the person may never get rich or financially stable then they shouldn’t get a gift. It’s our destiny to give. We just had a major flood hit our area and there are still many people who need, yes, a handout, as well as other types of provision and blessings.

To our present elected officials everywhere in our land, from now on. Make all forms of Health-Care truly affordable for all, not just for some. Be far and above way more fiscally responsible in managing, budgeting, and spending our tax dollars, Change the tax codes to tax the rich way more than they are and to put salary caps on high paid CEO’s and Politicians, professional athletes, and others. We do not just simply need a higher minimum wage but a bigger break on the various costs of living for those who are in the low income categories. We can do this, we will figure it out, we are Americans. We’ve never been short on ideas only recently on implementation and enforcement. As obese as so many Americans are, [including me a little bit], it’s amazing how little amount of gut’s we have to get done what needs to be done.

I also thank God I am a native of Broome County, America, and this area and live amongst many people here who anyone would be proud to call their neighbor.

[Rev.] W. Harrison Jr.