There’s plenty to be thankful for this year in Western New York
• A bountiful harvest. The weather conditions in 2010 proved to be very generous to most farm fields. Fresh produce has been available — and relatively affordable — for most of the year. For this reason, we can be thankful, just like the early settlers of Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts.
• Our region’s educational system. Of course there are some exceptions, but overall Western New York has some of the state’s best public and private schools. It shows in school test scores and in a number of other areas that are not defined by a number or letter grade.
• Our beautiful parks. Often overlooked by many, those who do take the time to visit any number of our region’s parks know all about these natural treasures.
• Educated taxpayers. In this current political atmosphere of people being “mad as H-E-double-hockey sticks,” there no doubt are some wackos out there. But their actions should not overshadow the well-spoken citizens who research and comment on issues of importance.
Whether it is by speaking at a board meeting or public hearing or writing a letter or contacting their elected officials, it’s encouraging to see people speak their mind instead of staying home and complaining.
• Dedicated public servants. It is so easy to sit back and take shots at elected officials — I should know, since I do my fair share in this space most weeks — but I do want to thank those elected officials who put in long hours to serve their communities as they attempt to make decisions that are in the best interest of their constituents.
• Volunteers. This area is enriched by the talents of thousands of people who donate countless hours to various projects, especially nonprofit causes that help make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate.
• Our faith community. The clergy and other dedicated individuals who serve at the churches, parishes and other places of worship in Western New York do much to serve the spiritual and social needs of tens of thousands of people.
• Police officers and firefighters. Our police and fire departments are well led, well staffed and well equipped. Their passion for their work results in all of us receiving excellent public safety protection.
• Our nation. We live in a country that is rich in its diversity, rich in its natural resources, rich in technology and rich in freedom.
Too often we focus on the negative and break things down based on the back-and-forth ping-pong game that is the petty partisan political battle between our country’s two major political parties. Let’s all pause and reflect to help us remember what a great place this is to live, especially when compared to some of the other nations in other parts of the world.
• The Internet. The World Wide Web has opened so many doors for so many of us in terms of our careers. In addition, websites such as Facebook and Twitter have allowed us to get in touch with old friends and also make professional contacts. I think back to my college days in the mid-1990s and find it hard to believe how I ever survived without obsessively checking my e-mail or jumping online to read the latest breaking news stories.
• Quality character in most people. As most of my readers know, I tend to be a cynic, but just when you write someone off, they’ll often surprise you. Since I’ve been making more of a point in recent months to embrace charity work, I’m encountering more and more wonderful people who can serve as inspiration and as role models to others.
(Daniel Meyer is editor of The Sun newspaper in Hamburg and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a consortium of weekly community newspapers with a combined circulation of approximately 75,000 homes. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. E-mail feedback to mey firstname.lastname@example.org.)