Thanksgiving 2020 for an Economist
Hindsight is 20/20, or so the saying goes. This year of 2020 has been most unusual. Even as news of the novel coronavirus emerged at the beginning of the year, I did not foresee such a pandemic nor did I expect the policy responses we have had. Many lives have been upturned and the odds of returning to what was once normal look increasingly slim. Eyesight of 20/21 is worse than 2020 ... and the year 2021 is next. Always wanting to be optimistic, I'll proudly say that my 20/20 hindsight gives me many reasons for gratitude, even as the academic's disease of myopia has kept me from having 20/20 vision (quite literally). The pandemic can show us problems, but it has shown me just how good things were and still are. Here is my short list:
Eyesight. My vision may not be 20/20, but it actually quite close. I never cease to be grateful for this sense of vision that lets me do my job (which I love) and provide for my family (whom I love). It seems so simple that it is easy to overlook, but healthy eyes are an amazing blessing.
Computing power and data to go with it. It never ceases to amaze me how fast computers can crunch numbers. Being able to go to FRED or some other data source and get what I need at the click of a mouse - how fortunate can I be?
A good dissertation adviser. Graduate school is long since over and I don't miss the first year. Things eased up after that and have kept getting better. I owe a lot to my adviser, Dr. Randall Holcombe, who was always patient, supportive, and upbeat, and who never wavered in setting high expectations.
Medicines to alleviate COVID-19 symptoms. I had COVID-19 during the rush of panic buying this spring. I couldn't find the medicines I wanted to have on hand because the stores were empty, but I did find something that will remain nameless so as not to endorse a product for off-label use. I managed to ease the fever enough to teach online isolated in a basement before I got the diagnosis. As much as I prefer face-to-face teaching, I'm glad that Kennesaw State closed the campus so I couldn't unknowingly spread the virus. I was sick when testing wasn't widely available.
Employment. Life is uncertain for everyone these days. If teaching online while battling a fever seems unpleasant, that's because it is. But I'm grateful I didn't have to file for unemployment benefits just to eat.
Safe food. It is so easy to take for granted that the food we buy is safe. I was able to eat during the lockdowns, but food is only good if it nourishes and doesn't harm. Every now and then, there is a news story about some outbreak somewhere in this country, but it is generally localized. The fact that I can go to whichever grocery store I please and have the food be safe is a luxury that much of the world lacks. The fact that more than 300 million people all across this country can do it is amazing. Being the economist that I am, I would like to extend this blessing to the places that lack it. Until then, if I can make much of a difference, I'll be grateful for what I have.
Peace after the election. The threat of violence was hyped up and, although there were a few isolated instances, I'm grateful that it hasn't really materialized. Someone like me won't ever be pleased with the outcome of most political systems. I don't know many people who are genuinely pleased with everything that happened during this past election now that the winners and losers are known; I certainly am not. The world is not over yet, however, and there will be more chances to try to get our preferred outcomes. The place where I live is better than could have been hoped for throughout most of human history. The Thanksgiving holiday is just ahead and, although there are stories of families being torn apart over politics, I'm glad mine isn't one of them. (As a side not, avoiding political talk in general can really help with that.) For my family and myself, Thanksgiving will be a day to give thanks for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and enjoy a hearty meal.
"O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." Psalm 107:1 KJV