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Esther Wojcicki

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Why I Am Thankful

Posted: 11/24/11 10:27 AM ET

We are a country who says the glass is half empty instead of half full. We need to change our perspective, at least on Thanksgiving.

While the country is suffering the worst economic recession in decades, we all have reasons to be thankful. One important reason is that we are here in the United States where we enjoy First Amendment rights. People complain all the time, but just having the freedom to complain is a gift we should all be thankful for. While there has been unnecessary use of force in some of the Occupy Wall Street protests, everyone has been free to protest. Just think of some of the other places in the world where people are not free to protest.

My parents emigrated from Russia before World War II where they suffered from irrational discrimination because they were Jewish. Fortunately, they left before WWII or I would not be here today. Everyone in America has immigrants in their past and we should all celebrate being here in America. We are all lucky.

However, we have millions of new immigrants who are illegal but who call America home, some who have been here since infancy. We need to solve our immigrant issue and treat these illegal immigrants with the same respect that our ancestors enjoyed. We are teaching our children the wrong values, that it is OK to treat some people badly. Our immigration issue has been going on for too long. It is time to figure out a solution and not one like Arizona and Georgia did. We are lucky that these immigrants have done jobs that Americans did not want to do like picking crops, constructions jobs, gardening and childcare. They continue to help us.

I grew up poor without healthcare and living in a one-bedroom apartment for four people. I went to school when they had half day sessions because the schools were so crowded. Nevertheless, I am grateful that I was able to get a scholarship to UC Berkeley and get a first class education.

Today, as a teacher, I am thankful for the students I have in my classes and the parents who support their education. I wish that all teachers would enjoy the same level of support that I have in Palo Alto High School. Too often teachers are blamed because the kids don't learn, but people need to realize teachers cannot educate kids on their own. It takes a village, as Hillary Clinton said years ago in her book of the same name. Kids need the support of their parents as Thomas Friedman pointed out in his NYTimes column entitled "How About Better Parents?" this past week.

While everyone has complained about Obama, I am grateful that he chose to be President at a time when our county's problems were overwhelming. Who could have done a better job? It is easy to complain, as we are all doing, but very hard to actually do something. Obama inherited a troubled country with serious economic problems. We expected him to be Superman and people are disappointed because he turned out to be human. Can you imagine what it takes to be President and trying to get all these divergent groups to cooperate? The GOP is bent on discrediting him, not solving our problems. Some of his policies have made me angry, but I probably would not have agreed with the policies of Hillary had she been elected.

We need to step back and be thankful for our country and for what it offers each of us. Most importantly, we need to work together, not at odds, to make this a better world for all of us. We all have similar goals -- to have a comfortable place to live, enough food to eat, a job, and people who care about us. I am thankful that most of us have that but we need to make sure that the 33% of the population that is struggling gets the support they need. Congress are you listening: working together is the way to achieve these goals.

 

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