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So for my second column, I wanted to announce I’ll call it simply ‘Musings.’

That’s what I’ll be using as my stock in trade – musings from a lifelong journalist who’s seen a lot, reported on a lot (print and broadcast) and had time to often think deeply about events after having witnessed them.

Dan Smith

I patterned it roughly after the Dan Rather blog “Steady,” in which the award-winning former CBS news anchor I much respect opines on the state of our country and the world.

It being Thanksgiving, I thought I’d give a nod to American tradition and express appreciation to some of the people I’ve been thankful for throughout the year (some, because there are too many to mention, and memory fades at my age).

Then I thought I’d add a little yin to the yang and remark on things I’m not thankful about – as I suspect many of you do in your heart of hearts.

It’s been a year of joys and sorrows, triumph and catastrophes, from political intrigue and prosecutions to meaningful legislation being passed despite unprecedented nefarious illegal scheming, from international progress toward peace to the nightmare of large-scale terrorist attacks and brutal revenge attacks, both killing scores of innocent civilians.

I’m sure I reflect the feelings of many of Ark Valley Voice’s readers when I say I’m worried, almost dreading the upcoming election year, based on what we’ve already seen, but we know it will probably be much worse before it’s over. Don’t even get me started about the ads….

Also can’t forget family and friends this holiday season – I’ve lost too many of late.

Then, our political divisions, seemingly unending, herald the start of election season.

The misinformation and disinformation (a.k.a. lies) have kept some of our citizens acting like zombies. That some of our leaders acting like carnival barkers hawking a sideshow for these last few years harkens back to classic dystopian future novels where citizens are treated as programmable automatons.

The prosecutions of Donald Trump and his sycophants at least show that the majority of the country demands those who would overthrow the duly elected government and torment insurrection be held accountable. Our constitution and democracy demand it.

I am thankful for Prosecutor Jack Smith (for the record, no relation 🙂 and prosecutors in Georgia and elsewhere for pursuing their search for truth and justice in the face of legal shenanigans, political pressure, and even threats of violence.

Like a lot of voters, I worry about the anti-democracy and fascist-sounding rhetoric coming from the far right. Polls show some Americans think resorting to violence is permissible in these days of growing political conflict, with one former president and current candidate apparently planning to remake the government into an authoritarian dystopia if elected. Not in this country, ever.

Thanks is deserved throughout the year for those who serve the public continuously; our local and state government leaders, at all levels, certainly those involved in public health, often overlooked; and election officials, both subjected to intimidation or threats; and all the many community civic and charitable organizations who provide for those in need as well as the arts, entertainment, and environmental groups who help brighten our community atmosphere all year long.

And let’s not forget ‘the media’ – especially the journalists who bring us the news, and whose job it is to be one of the pillars of democracy by giving people the truth and the freedom to discuss it. Exampled by Ark Valley Voice, they provide the information people need about their community and that information is vital to the cohesiveness of a community. We should always appreciate them.

I told myself to keep the ‘not thankful’ list mercifully short. Here goes:

I don’t appreciate the loss of quiet in our town, particularly the loud vehicle drivers, private and commercial, some of whom seem to enjoy being a public nuisance, racking off loud mufflers to symbolize who knows what in their minds. We need a good muffler shop and noise tickets from law enforcement to force the cheapskates to get quieted down.

Also, the rude and inattentive drivers who seem to be growing in number around town; from being forced off the road a couple times by idiots blindly passing on a curve to nearly getting hit by someone coming through a stop sign or just speeding recklessly. Time to wise up folks.

Then there’s the complainers. (me included?) Those who seemingly are not happy unless they are expressing anger about someone or something that gives them a sense of grievance. Not that there aren’t real issues to complain about. But for some, it seems part of their nature to always have a problem they want to blame on someone; never really offering assistance or to be part of the solution, mind you, but complaining loud and long nonetheless. Wouldn’t it be better to be part of a cooperative solution? Food for thought.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving all

Daniel Smith