Monday, November 23, 2009

Being Thankful - Early

My op-ed piece for the Sun Newspapers which will hopefully be published for this Thursday's paper:

“Abundance is, in large part, an attitude,” remarked Sue Patton Thoele, a powerful contemporary writer. This year, in Seal Beach, we have an amazing number of blessings and abundance to be thankful for this year. We have a balanced budget and reserves in our town, incredibly low crime and great public services. At the same time, we have the natural beauty of Southern California and a fairly stable if not robust local economy. There are city-wide improvements which are occurring on storm drains, wells and other infrastructure projects. We have citizens making great positive impacts: Bill Ayres, Cypress College’s Citizen of the Year for Seal Beach and founder of the 5K/10K Run, Pastor Don Shoemaker of Grace Community as the Christmas Parade Grand Marshal, Kim & Steve Masoner of Save our Beach, Eric Lenahan of PONY Baseball (and the Chamber) and so many others.

At the same time, some things are a bit troubling in our society right now. There was the horrific shooting at Fort Hood, an act of homicidal desperation; a continuing degree of unemployment with an expectation of continued governmental support and now a sweeping set of health care reform to deliver yet more services to more people. Our national budget is in deficit and we continue to spend money as though we can print our way out of any problem. We vote for entitlement after bailout but seem to miss the issue of accountability to our taxpayers. We have a troubling cleanup occurring in our Bridgeport neighborhood by ARCO with not a lot of clear information going to our citizens until recently. For the second time in our history (the first being Prohibition), we are actually taking rights away from our fellow citizens in both California and Maine: the right to marry. This is troubling for me, as I am directly affected by that “taking.”

Among these concerns, there are a few other “unsung” heroes of our town. These heroes keep us on track and I think we owe them a debt of thanks. They are the activist who create a strong voice for their constituents – Mike Buhbe, Joyce Ross-Parque, Robert L. Goldberg, Eldon Alexander, Patti Campbell and a few others. Since the Chamber started having a government and public relations presence two years ago, I have been proud to be among them; these individuals have demonstrated a commitment to positive change that is admirable. Regardless of where you might stand on an issue, they are actually speaking about them to our Council and Commissions. Thank you.

Perhaps we should remember the words the famous Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran, “You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.” In Seal Beach we have a tradition of improving our community. Impact Seal Beach on November 14th brought over 150 volunteers together to improve our parks and public spaces, we are about to have our 30th Annual Seal Beach Thanksgiving dinner at St. Anne’s and will welcome in the holiday season with our Holiday Tree lighting on “Black Friday” – so be sure to visit Main Street and then enjoy the festivities at Eisenhower Park on November 27th.

We must continue to come together to help preserve the quality of life within our town. I would ask each of you, how are you involved in community? Do you volunteer? Do you encourage your friends and family to participate? You should. Only through action together can we continue to grow that magic that is Seal Beach. So take a moment and be thankful for our unique community. Speaking for the Chamber, I know all of our member businesses thank you for a great year. If we don’t see you at the Chamber Annual Thanksgiving Dinner, then surely we will see you, your family and friends during our largest ever Christmas Parade on Friday, December 4th!

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