Opinion | Susan Knopf: I’m thankful | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Susan Knopf: I’m thankful

I’m thankful. I’m grateful.

For the record, Harvard Medical School says “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

I’m thankful to live in Summit County. I’ve lived in lots of other places. None ever spoke to my heart like Summit County. I knew it the first time I visited in 1974. Yes, it’s very different now. But the soul of the place still breathes into each of us.

I’m grateful for our community leadership that continues to identify issues that hold us back and look for answers that drive us forward.

I’m thankful to be in this country.

If cousins hadn’t sponsored my grandparents, I wouldn’t be here. They weren’t the best immigration prospects. My maternal grandfather finished the eighth grade. They had no money.

I’m grateful my grandparents persisted. After suffering through the Great Depression, they were rewarded with the post-World War II economic boom. It was an unprecedented U.S. economic expansion.

They worked hard and built businesses. We still enjoy the fruits of their labors — the labors of immigrants who today would not be allowed to enter this country.

Again, if they didn’t get here, I wouldn’t be alive. Most of my family died in the Holocaust. Today, many people throughout the world are suffering from weather catastrophes, economic collapse, political persecution and turmoil.

We could welcome them. They could usher in the next economic boom. Historically, we have spread the misconception that immigrants harm the economy. The reality is that the majority of economists view immigration as economic opportunity.

PBS reports the National Academies of Sciences concluded that “immigration has an overall positive impact on long-run economic growth in the U.S.” The report says one in four Americans are immigrants, foreign-born or the child of a foreign-born person. The truth is, if your ancestors arrived on the Mayflower, you descended from immigrants.

If my grandparents didn’t arrive here, hundreds of people would not have been employed in their businesses. Because my grandparents knew deprivations, they always looked for undervalued workers and presented them new opportunities for growth and prosperity.

I know this because I watched it happen. I used to visit the businesses on school vacations. I watched the changes happen. The employees pulled me aside and told me Grandpa helped them.

But their stories weren’t about Grandpa. Their stories were about how they courageously changed their lives with opportunity. Immigrants create more opportunities for more people.

MIT Sloan School of Management reports, “Not only are immigrants 80% more likely to start a business than those born in the U.S., the number of jobs created by these immigrant-founded firms is 42% higher than native-born founded firms, relative to each population.”

I’m thankful to be back in my home after renovations. I’m grateful to the immigrants and locals who did such good work. I’m grateful everyone was safe on the job during the pandemic.

I’m thankful I survived COVID-19. I’m grateful to Dr. Chris Ebert-Santos who exhorted me to get a monoclonal antibody infusion, which arrested the progress of the disease. I’m thankful I was vaccinated and boosted and that my case wasn’t worse.

I’m thankful I have Medicare, which paid for the treatment; and I despair that others do not have the health care they need.

Let’s take stock of the many things for which we each give thanks. Let’s also show grace and compassion to those who struggle.

I’m thankful to have the opportunity to work with others who uplift members of our community. I’m grateful to the many members of our community who gave generously to Thanksgiving To-Go. We fed 600 families.

Thanks also to those of you who give of your time and precious dollars to help the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, Building Hope Summit County, The Summit Foundation, the Summit Colorado Interfaith Council, and our food banks and day shelters, to name a few. Thank you.

We can do one more thing.

We must be respectful and courteous to one another — even when we don’t agree, even when the other person is being rude. Whoops, I confess I reciprocated a rude gesture and mumbled to myself this week when people in vehicles were rude to me. I’ll just keep working on that.

Hope you have a great Thanksgiving weekend. See you back here in two weeks.

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