Let’s think about social safety nets as Thanksgiving nears.

Picture a huge family gathering, say 100, sharing laughs, great kitchen smells. Two sit down to heaped plates, turkey, gravy, trimmings; three get peas and potatoes. Eighty-one lick scraps from cupped hands; 12 children and two grandmothers get nothing.

That image is no bad dream, it’s the real world, where not quite 5 percent of us have more than 95 percent of the wealth.

The U.S. does a bit better (we invented Thanksgiving). Three of the 100 eat from over-full plates, and 60 to 70 of us eat good potatoes and peas.

It is easier here to avoid the eyes of those 30 or more who don’t. Still at a Thanksgiving meal, those eyes would feel unbearable. Is it bearable because the 100 is millions?

Some fool may say, with mouth full of peas and potato, “I earned this on my own. Society didn’t build this, I built it! People get what they work for!”

The Book of Job was the first of many books to show how times may get hard for anyone. Even a Bill Gates or a Ted Turner knows at heart that he had luck, that things might have gone bad for him for all his gifts and drive.

Whether people believe in or deny evolution, they know we are all kin at one table.

Let’s not dismantle our social safety nets, no matter who is in office. Let’s not deregulate so that insurance companies deny insurance to the sick, while we regulate birth control so that teenagers bear children they cannot care for.

Let’s not imagine we can afford malnourished kids, but not afford food stamps. Or corporate tax breaks, but not minimum wages.

Thanksgiving is not a day. It is sane state of mind.

Richard Sewell, Waterville

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