Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

By Robert Scott

Thanksgiving 2022 brings another opportunity to reflect on the many blessings we share here in Edgefield County, rich andpoor, old and young, new residents and those with many familygenerations living here before us. Especially in a political year like this one, after an election that has resulted in a government split between Republicans and Democrats, the new media arewith filled with stories highlighting how different we supposedly are from each other. In reality, we are not so different, regardless of where or whether we go to Church, what race we are, and what language we speak to our families at home. The Americanmotto “E Pluribus Unum” – From Many, One – is never truer than when we celebrate the most American of holidays, Thanksgiving.

Our patriotism unites us, and it does so very differently from other countries’ nationalism. Our patriotism is not based on an ethnically homogeneous nation that somehow created or nurtured us. To the contrary, our patriotism is based on our love of country, of the country we have created and continue to create every election cycle, a country that “We the People” own in a real sense, not one that owns us. We live in a country that cherishes free expression and political debate, where even the newest resident is urged to become a citizen, and every citizen is not just allowed but encouraged to vote. We cherish the right to change our government any time we as Americans think we should, through the power of the ballot box. Unlike much of the world, elections are our normal way of changing things and not the exception. It is up to us to ensure progress, to ensure the continued growth of our freedoms as they have grown ever since 1776, and never to take them for granted.

Despite headlines to the contrary, our economy is robust and provides so many jobs that we struggle to fill them all. Every American who wants a job can find one, but not all of those fully employed earn enough to support themselves and their families. We have an obligation to ensure that the lowest wages paid to our fully employed neighbors are sufficient. Inflation affects those earning minimum wage most of all; that we as a nation have not allowed the minimum wage to be adjusted for inflation bespeaks a failure to share the bounty we celebrate every Thanksgiving. We need to fix that.

The newly elected Congress has vowed to do something about undocumented immigration. As has been the case for many years, there are hundreds arriving daily “yearning to be free.” Is the solution to send them back, even though there are not enough people already here to fill the jobs we need filled? Those who come here seeking asylum or refuge need us; and we need them, too. Hiring them year after year and then sending them home is not the answer; we must offer those who work among us the ability to live among us, too. Many of these potential Americans have been separated from their villages, towns, and even countries. They desperately seek a safe place to stay, and almost all are willing to take on the jobs that a fully employed America still needs to have done. This Thanksgiving, our heritage, our history, and our culture, together forming a rich and diverse ethnic tapestry, all enjoin us to shelter the homeless, to feed the hungry, and to heal the sick and injured. But the fundamental message of Thanksgiving, starting with the first Thanksgiving, is to Welcome the Stranger.

Let us decide here in Edgefield County, South Carolina, to work toward this goal: that all Americans rich and poor, including not only those whose families have been here since colonial days but also those who arrived here penniless just yesterday, may enjoy the benefit of living in a hard-working, prosperous, and most welcoming nation. Happy Thanksgiving to all!