Let us Give Thanks
Abortion The shut-down of abortion clinics in the United States continues: there were 2,176 clinics at their peak in 1991, but today there are only 515. This trend is also happening at a time when abortions are concentrated in clinics rather than doctors’ offices or hospitals. In 2016, 22 clinics have closed so far – but in December of 2015 alone, there were 51 closures! All over the country, not just in the famous case in Texas. That may mean that clinics are more likely to close at the end of the calendar year, so we may see a good number yet to come next month. Add those to figures together, and that’s a total of 73 facilities closed since Thanksgiving of last year. In international news, the effort by pro-abortion groups to have the United Nations declare September 28 to be an “International Safe Abortion Day” failed. Pro-lifers were successful in their campaign against the idea.
War The country of Colombia has ceased the war between its rebel group FARC and its government, with a final peace accord within reach. Here’s a quote from Time magazine commenting on how momentous this ending of one specific war is: “The formal end of the conflict marks the effective end of war in the western hemisphere, home to more than a billion people. There is still plenty of violence to be found in the Americas – especially drug-related gang violence . . . But traditional armed conflict – involving armies from two or more states, or between a government and an organized rebel group – has ended on one-half of the planet. . . . Military coups are largely a thing of the past; democratic governments are increasingly the norm, and even longtime enemies like the U.S. and Cuba are growing closer. . . . In this Latin America is following the example of once war-torn regions like Southeast Asia that are now almost entirely free of active combat.” Source: “How peace – finally – came to reign throughout the western hemisphere” by Bryan Walsh, Time magazine, September 12-19, pp. 7-8. Online only available to subscribers.
Nuclear Weapons On October 27 of this year, the United Nations adopted a landmark resolution to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons; 123 nations voted for the resolution, with 38 voting against it and 16 abstaining. The countries that actually have nuclear weapons were of course among those against the resolution. But even if the nuclear nations scoff, a treaty would help stigmatize the weapons.
Death Penalty For the first time in over 40 years, public support in the United States for the death penalty has gone under half, so is no longer a majority opinion. The number of executions and death sentences is also lower than it’s been in decades. International actions against the death penalty are still vigorous.
Quotation of the Week Robert Emmons & Michael McCullough. Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Editor’s Note: This article reports a set of studies in which people were in one of three groups: those who wrote of things they were grateful for; those who wrote of things that irritated them; and those who wrote of neutral things. On various measures of emotional state and physical health, the blessings group did better, the gripes group did worst, and the neutral group was in the middle. People led to focus on their blessings were also more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or offered emotional support to another, suggesting prosocial motivation as a consequence of [gratitude]. This finding lends support to the hypothesis that gratitude serves as a moral motivator.
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