WHO WE ARE--Paris. Ferguson. Syria. Baltimore. Libya. It seems like there's a lot to be fearful of and it's hard at times to ignore the domestic and foreign strife that forebodes both a bruising and divisive election year in 2016 ... and maybe even a world that is bent on World War III. But to be honest and thorough, we've got a lot to be thankful for:
1) For one thing, we've got an Internet that can unearth most of which charities are worth donating to...and which charities are not worth donating to. For example, the Salvation Army has incredibly low overhead and donates most of its proceeds to charity--the United Way, UNICEF, and the Red Cross...not so much.
2) Despite our agony and angst about "the left wing media" and "the right wing talk show circuit", we've got plenty of alternative media perspectives to both demonize and canonize both the Left and the Right. Whether it's decrying the Republican Party or promoting the unexpected rise of Donald Trump, there's something for everyone...and no one has a monopoly on the printed word anymore.
3) And getting back to the world of politics, have you SEEN the viewership of the debates? Inasmuch as there's lot of apathy to decry in our nation, it does appear that the voters and viewers of these debates are numerous and focused on who will be our next leader after next year's elections. And that can only be a good thing.
4) Similarly, we can take satisfaction that--regardless of where one stands on the "Black Lives Matter" movement--police officers who use deadly force indiscriminately will go to jail. However, it remains to be seen whether or not we'll ever find national outrage to decry the violence committed in black neighborhoods by those who live there...because black lives do matter. Or at least they should matter.
5) We can study and shine the light on Los Angeles' traffic problems...while also noting that Los Angeles has among the vigorous public works projects in the nation, with renewed efforts to rebuild our infrastructure and create a city/county mass transit network.
6) Whether we find it enthralling or repugnant, the ability of each and every American with Internet access to debate the big (and not so big) issues on Facebook and other social media websites allows both cheap entertainment and education to be more accessible to all of us...although one should be warned that a person gets what he/she pays for with that "free" stuff often being risky, untrue, and inappropriately biased.
7) Relatively speaking, we live in a nation awash in wealth. Most of our less affluent households have televisions, microwave ovens, cell phones and modern appliances that are fit for a king compared to what the rest of the world has. We may not eat so well...but, by and large, we do at least eat.
8) Thanks to websites/blogs such as CityWatchLA, we can debate issues ranging from overdevelopment and City of LA corruption and our burgeoning homelessness problem without having to resort to violence. And it's free.
9) We can be thankful to the hordes of volunteers who do endless labor and toil on our behalf, and they range from those feeding the homeless to the Neighborhood Council volunteers who fight for our rights and our neighborhoods. Los Angeles really is the City of the Angels...even if those angels are not always recognized and appreciated.
10) Finally, we can be thankful for our families and friends. After yet another year of work and challenges, they're still there for us...and maybe over the next month or so we can and should spend a little more time with them. Because without them to define us, and to shape and mold us to the final products that we are today, our lives would be virtually without meaning.
To each and every one of you, Happy Thanksgiving!
(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]. He also does regular commentary on the Mark Isler Radio Show on AM 870, and co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)
Vol 13 Issue 96
Pub: Nov 26, 2015