Giving thanks and giving purpose
This Thanksgiving, many of us are looking forward to joining with family and friends and to the break from life’s demands that the holiday affords us. But in President John F. Kennedy’s final Thanksgiving proclamation, he urged Americans not to use it simply as a day of rest. It should also be a day of contemplation, he said, issuing this call: “Today we give our thanks, most of all, for the ideals of honor and faith we inherit from our forefathers--for the decency of purpose, steadfastness of resolve and strength of will, for the courage and the humility, which they possessed and which we must seek every day to emulate. As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”
In Arkansas, we have resolved to help our people, and we have indeed lived by those words. Approximately 45 percent of Arkansans who did not have health coverage at the beginning of the year are now insured and receiving better care. That, alone, is a life-changing blessing for tens of thousands of Arkansans. And as a State, we lead the nation in reducing the number of uninsured people. We also have fewer hungry children, thanks to the work of many organizations in both Arkansas’s public and private sectors that provide millions of meals.
This is, of course, a charitable time of year, and lots of us feel the giving spirit during the holiday season. Recently, there has been an effort to organize that generosity in ways similar to the retail tent poles of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If shopping has a united theme after Thanksgiving, then why not have one for generosity, as well?
The concept of #GivingTuesday developed from this idea. Established in 2012 as a national day of generosity, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is an opportunity for citizens to rally around favorite causes, build stronger communities, and think of others in need. Supporters of #GivingTuesday are encouraged to take photos of someone or something that, to them, represents the spirit of giving, and then upload those images to social media. We know that we create positive change in our communities and in our world one good deed at a time. An organized online event like this shows how those deeds can add up and their collective accumulation can give us hope and a foundation for the future.
Most of us want our actions of support and generosity to match our words, just as President Kennedy called for 50 years ago. However, busy lives and occasional tough times can sometimes slow our intentions of putting our plans for giving into actual deeds. We have much to be thankful for as Arkansans and as Americans. As we pause to reflect on our blessings this season, remember that they can empower us to help each other and improve both our lives, and our communities.