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War Of Words Can Stop With One: ‘Thanks’

Sun., Nov. 19, 1995

Becky Thilo, 10, reads the newspaper.

Once she is dressed and ready to head off to fifth grade at Ramsey Elementary in Coeur d’Alene, she sits at the breakfast table eating Lucky Charms and checking her horoscope and the comics.

Her mother, Sue Thilo, says Becky already is excited about words on paper. In this time of much lamentation about the decline of reading, Becky made my day.

I hope to make hers by offering two simple words: Thank-you.

The magic of thanking another cannot be calculated, triangulated, or done with mirrors.

Giving thanks is an unvarnished act that polishes the soul of both the giver and the receiver. These days we are swimming in words, phrases and conversations that don’t polish, but only scratch our souls.

If Becky reads the whole paper, or listens to the TV news or talk radio, she will discover many words of hate and ridicule.

Our politicians wage war with words calculated to unsettle us and make us afraid.

We have used words unsparingly to blast, and blame, and talk with bombast of how we have been wronged, had our rights abused, or watched our country go to hell.

But if we look closely and speak less loudly, each of us would see a world of people doing the right thing. Often, they do not receive our gratitude as we are consumed with our own darkened thoughts and troubles.

On Thursday, our feverishly angry, accusative nation interrupts its wars of words to try and give thanks.

Sitting with turkey on the table and the Dallas Cowboys on TV, we each have an opportunity to consider the people we know whose words, deeds and actions have made our lives better.

These people won’t all be sitting at the same table, but they are part of our public family.

And if each of us thanked them more often, recognized their achievements more publicly, perhaps their efforts might be modeled, copied and emulated.

So, in addition to Becky Thilo here a few others who will be on my Thanksgiving list:

Thanks go to the men I know who have been with their wives through battles with cancer, men such as Jim Kershner, Don Kardong and Alan Tower whose courage and support would be an inspiration to all.

Thanks in my household extend to David Demand, the music teacher at St. George’s School, who gave my daughter and her classmates the instruction they needed to sing their hearts out at the fall music recital.

And, thanks go out to Mark Perrier at Garfield Elementary, who has taught my son to love math.

Oh, and thanks to my neighbors on Lake Pend Oreille who called last summer to tell me my cabin’s roof had blown loose.

Thanks to Rod Erickson at the Fireside Inn in Spirit Lake, for the best yodeling I’ve ever heard.

And Ilmar Kuljus, thanks for the accordion lessons, even if my friends don’t appreciate it.

Often, I hear the complaint that there is no news of people deserving thanks in the paper.

Maybe eyeballs don’t remember this news, or these people, but it can be found in print, and surely sticks in the memory of reporters.

When I asked around the newsroom about any good works that have made our part of the world a better place, names flew faster than geese in autumn.

For example, thanks are owed Spike Cunningham, who runs a Sunday brunch for the poor on East Sprague each week.

Thanks go to Bill Dropko, who organizes the Children’s Tree at Spokane’s Franklin Park Mall to provide gifts to needy families.

In Coeur d’Alene, thanks to Patty Breuchaud, who organized this week’s community Thanksgiving feast because she thought the town needed it.

In the meantime, thanks to Tom Higgins, a hunter who has volunteered for 13 years now to run firearms safety classes in the region.

And shouldn’t we thank Jaime Meenach, 17, of Valleyford for thinking it was hip to be square and represent Spokane in state the Make-It-Yourself-with-Wool competition?

Of course I could go on and thank Jennifer Gorder for helping kids with cancer have fun at Camp Good Times; thank Kyle Genther, a third-grader who donated his $1-a-week allowance to buy school supplies at Lake Spokane Elementary; thank Patrick Daniel Berner, a 14-year-old who volunteers at the Spokane AIDS Network.

There are no shortages of examples of good works.

People we don’t know, people who look differently than us, people who vote the other ticket or attend that other church all do work that warrants our thanks.

Their efforts bind us together.

Remember this on Thanksgiving Day as we declare a truce in our war of words and say, simply, “Thank-you.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Chris Peck is the Editor of The Spokesman-Review. His column appears each Sunday.

Chris Peck is the Editor of The Spokesman-Review. His column appears each Sunday.

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