As we celebrate a well-earned holiday, our gratitude for living in America is only part of the picture.

Let’s also be grateful for the people whose kindness has made our pursuit of happiness more successful.  For many of us, it’s family and friends.  For others, it’s the folks who helped us on the job. Sometimes, it’s the people who stepped in when life got too difficult to handle alone.  For people of faith, the many forms of divine intervention need to be thanked.

…and if your pursuit of happiness went off track, we can all do a better job of helping you restore it.  As a community, let’s pay more than lip service to helping people dig out from under.  After all, just about everyone will need a hand now and then.  If you don’t, that blessing is even more reason to pay it forward.

As a society, let’s stop shutting Americans out of the emotional inclusion that binds us all together. The more people feel like outsiders, the more their discontent turns into chickens that will come home to roost.

As individuals, let’s focus on building people up instead of tearing them down. One easy way is to look for reasons to praise the good that people do and not just criticize when they don’t.  Praise can obviously make a positive difference at home, on the job, and especially with strangers.  It doesn’t cost anything, and helps to build the personal connection that defines a civilized society.   Our collective kindness means even more when the world seems increasingly cruel.

We can’t be truly independent without being interdependent.  That realization makes us truly free.

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