Every day brings some news to soften the hardest heart

It does seem, doesn’t it?, that until some period of calamity, we humans are disinclined to step back and recall that, as poet Max Ehrmann famously declared, “with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” Our own modern day of thanksgiving was born out of the nation’s most horrendous conflict, when Abraham Lincoln worried that men are “prone to forget” we have so many blessings “that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”

But Lincoln’s proclamation and the annual national tradition that has evolved ever since emphasize the need to remember our blessings every day, not just as a psychic refuge in times of trouble. In that spirit, I like to recall each year on this day that in the midst of the depressing swarm of ugly events that often command our attention, an abundance of uplifting stories also muscle their way into the news.

Consider just a few from the past week:

  • As we reported in a feature on Elgin U-46’s DREAM program for students who struggle in conventional classrooms, banners throughout the hallway proclaim positive messages and lockers are decorated with labels reminding students of their best qualities — with terms like courageous, energetic, awesome, visionary and more.
  • At Mundelein High School, the Facebook declarations of students, parents and colleagues following the death of a beloved culinary arts teacher led to a cookbook honoring her, the proceeds of which will be used for a scholarship in her memory.
  • Sometimes it’s just good news: Like in Mount Prospect, where a 2017 budget was proposed with the combined joys of a surplus and the likelihood of lower property taxes.
  • Or at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights, which after years of struggle presented an annual budget in the black, including ticket revenues up 30 percent over two years ago.
  • Or something as simple as the advent of ultramodern Bowlero Naperville, a new “hipster” way to enjoy bowling and add to the community’s commercial base.
  • Our editorial Wednesday praised two communitywide efforts that demonstrated the profound spirit of hope and partnership that runs through the suburbs — an interfaith service, the 26th annual, in Buffalo Grove celebrating our diverse spiritual traditions and an open house at a Schaumburg mosque where participants could learn more about what it really means to be Muslim. Both events drew standing-room-only crowds.
  • And, of course, there is simple generosity — a cancer survivor from Barrington who hosted bone marrow registry drive; a retired Kraft Foods executive fighting hunger; a fun run in the memory of a Fremd cross-country standout raising money for a rare heart condition; a half-million-dollar donation for pet rescue in Woodstock; a West Chicago garden center for families in need; and many, many more.

I could go on. And on. And on.

All from a single week, these constant reminders that the same news media that chronicles the animosity of politics, the devastation of natural disasters and the crises of war and hunger asimultaneously reminds us every day that we still live in a beautiful world. Happy Thanksgiving.

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