Journalists aren’t known for our capacity for gratitude. We’re generally a miserable lot, demanding access to public officials, brooding for far too long over hate mail and perceived slights, working long hours with little sleep and little understanding from our families of the path we’ve chosen in life. It’s difficult for us to realize that we do have something to be grateful for.

As we finish our Thanksgiving dinners here and look to an extended Christmas shopping season thanks to an extra week of November after Thanksgiving, we have to admit, it’s been difficult to find things to be grateful for. Every national news cycle brings with it fresh horrors, from mass shootings to devastating wildfires to more and more conclusive evidence of the ways in which the planet seems to be rejecting our very presence here.

And the prospects for journalism in the new year do seem equally bleak. In this country, we take freedom of the press for granted just as easily as we take the freedom to say what we please every day we walk out our front doors. It’s difficult for Americans to even grasp what a society without a free press looks like.

But people can’t function without a basic sense of the good in this world, of our neighbors’ capacities for kindness and of our friends’ capacity for empathy. It’s without these things that our society would truly begin to break down.

As we enter this season of gratitude, we are far more likely to see this humanity in our immediate environment. And it’s not difficult to be a part of this scheme. Every door held for someone entering a post office has a cascading effect on the next person who feels compelled to do just the same. And people generally don’t do this out of a sense of obligation. They do this because it feels good to pay it forward in a way that anyone, regardless of our means, can do.

This December, we’re grateful for the compassion of people who stop to talk to their neighbors, who take in a differing viewpoint without a sense of judgement, who offer advice when needed and a friendly smile and a wave when they pass on the street. It’s this type of spirit that will help to get us all through difficult times.

We are lucky to live in a semi-rural area, where these types of interactions are easy to come by. City dwellers need to seek them out, which is likely a part of the reason so many come here — not just to sample our beaches and farms, but to sample our humanity, to bring a little bit of it home to the cold towers of steel and glass.

This year, we’re grateful for the people of the East End — the people who put each other first, those who help to feed and shelter people in need, who lend an ear to friends in distress, who open their doors and their hearts and who realize that there is nothing lost by giving, and everything for us all to gain.

We’re also grateful to all of you for reading this infant publication. Our second anniversary is coming up soon, and we’ve been honored to share this journey with you. Thank you.

East End Beacon
The East End Beacon is your guide to social and environmental issues, arts & culture on the East End of Long Island.

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