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Count blessings along with job losses

POSTED: March 29, 2009 1:00 a.m.

In my everyday job, I write about business and state politics.

Those are generally not fun areas on which to write. It seems like every story now is about some sort of downward trend. Revenues are less, businesses are closing and folks are losing jobs.

I try to look at the glass as being half-full rather than half-empty.

Right now, unemployment in the state is hovering around 9 percent. I know some folks who are looking for work and it's tough out there. But the upside is if unemployment is 9 percent, then we have 91 percent employment. We don't report it that way.

I work in the newspaper business. I used to think it was a secure job. In this day and time, job security doesn't mean what it used to. My wife is a school teacher and we always thought that was the most secure job. Not anymore.

If you honestly take a step back and look at things, you'll see we have a lot to be thankful for.

My mother was born into a family of sharecroppers in rural Walton County. They didn't have electricity until she was in high school. I was a child before my grandfather had running water and indoor plumbing.

My grandfather never owned a share of stock in a publicly traded company. So, when the stock market collapsed in 1929, it was no big deal to him. They didn't own a radio or subscribe to a newspaper. Mama used to say that they didn't know there was a Great Depression until it was about over.

Sure, prices fell for the cotton that Papa raised and hauled to town with a mule and wagon, but they were poor before, during and after the depression.

When Mama and her siblings started going to school in Monroe, city children would talk about hearing President Roosevelt on the radio during one of his fireside chats. Not wanting to feel like an outcast, Mama would sometimes say she heard it, too.

Mama talked about tracing their feet with a pencil on a piece of paper, so that some charitable group might find them a pair of shoes that came close to fitting.

I've never had to do that. I have lived all of my adult life in an air-conditioned home. I've had a color TV, most of the time hooked to more cable channels than I care to watch. I've got more clothes and shoes than I really need.

Everybody in my family has a car. They may not be the latest model, but it gets them where they need to be. The children, all grown, would not dare think of walking somewhere.
I'd like to owe less money and have more retirement, but the truth is that most of us are doing pretty well. The things I described above are not unusual.

I have much sympathy for people who have lost homes and jobs, and we need to do everything we can to help them.

But I'm grateful to live in the greatest nation in the world. That's why folks from all over the globe still want to come here.

Instead of grousing about things we can't control, we need to do a little counting of our blessings. We have a lot of them.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays.



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