A friend wrote the other day that he is filled with gratitude, and I wrote back that I am, too. But so many people I know are facing the exigencies of unemployment, lack of health insurance, and diminished prospects for personal fulfillment.
A headline today says that labor unions are increasingly accepting two tiered systems of compensation. Reading the article, we quickly learn that it is actually a three tiered system: older workers paid at their present rates but with no prospect of ever getting a raise; younger workers paid five to fifteen dollars less per hour and with reduced benefits; and temporary workers paid very low wages with no benefits at all. As time goes on, the first group will phase out, and if things don’t pick up, perhaps the middle group will vanish, as well.
My most unsettling thoughts are of the widening gulf between rich and poor. Conservatives have long and justifiably protested that government should not undertake to redistribute income; but neither should it stack the deck against the poor or in favor of the rich. The name for such tyranny is plutocracy, and I fear its malignant effects on union, justice, tranquility, the general welfare, and liberty.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I feel very grateful to be living peacefully on this lovely mountain. However, the holiday reminds me that gratitude without humility and charity is no better than gloating.
Pilgrim's Grace by Henry Mosler (1841-1920). Note that the food is either covered or off the table, suggesting that the intensity of their prayer is for more than just sustenance. I know little about the artist other than he was a European Jew who emigrated to Cincinnati, and his granddaughter, Audrey Skirball-Kenis, founded the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. Click on the picture for a closer look.