Giving Thanks…

…and asking questions.

This Thanksgiving season, as I prepare to fly back east to spend the holiday with family members in their comfortable homes, I can’t help but think about the thousands of people left homeless by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to have my home and virtually all my possessions taken away by a natural disaster. I can’t imagine what it must be like to wonder where I’ll be living next week, month, or year. What I’ll be doing for a living. How my kids will go to school. Whether I’ll ever have the same level of comfort — even if that comfort level was low by many standards — as I used to.

We drop canned goods into collection boxes and write checks to aid organizations. Some of us even participate in holiday meals at homeless shelters. But do any of us really think about the people we believe we’re helping? How far do you think a few cans of tomatoes and a couple of pairs of jeans that no longer fit you will go to help the people who lost everything?

Thinking about the Katrina victims, formerly of New Orleans, is hardest for me. The levees broke and the pumps failed partially because they were in serious need of maintenance. Maintenance they couldn’t get because of budget cuts and confusion over who would pay. But where did that money go? What government-funded project got the cash that should have gone to the levees and pumps? A new war monument? A parking lot? Mardi Gras clean-up?

And what of the money that should be funding FEMA in this terrible time of need? Oh yes, I know where that’s going. It costs a lot of money to fund a war. I guess our government believes it’s more important to shove democracy down the throats of the Iraqis than to ensure the safety, welfare, and well-being of our own citizens at home.

So as you’re eating your Thanksgiving turkey this year, stuffing yourself with stuffing and gorging yourself with gravy, take a moment to think about the thousands in need in this country.

And give thanks that you’re not one of them.

What do you think?