John Pearrell

By time you read this article, we would have celebrated another Thanksgiving in our country.

We truly do have a lot for which we should be thankful. While our country is far from perfect, (no country or system of government will ever be perfect as long as imperfect people are running it), we truly are more fortunate than most! Even the poorest among us has it better than the poor in other parts of the world!

I have been to “civilized” countries where I have watched people throwing rocks in trees to score their breakfast for the day. Countries with their sewage running in open gutters along their city streets. A country where a visit to the doctor’s office found us in a small, cramped room with a single bare lightbulb illuminating the exam area. Shots were equipped with re-usable needles that were sterilized in alcohol between uses, and bandages made out of sterilized linens, sterilized by being put into something that resembled a microwave oven only with ultraviolet lights, the doctor explaining that it was safe because the bandage he was about to apply had been sterilized for 24 hours.

I have been in countries where their government sponsored hospitals had cats and stray dogs in the hallways scavenging in the discarded bandages thrown into the hall. Hospitals where the patient room was one huge ward with the beds lined up head-to foot with just enough room between them for the medical staff to make their rounds. At that hospital the patients’ friends or family were responsible for all meals, water, and even toilet paper. We were warned that all personal items were considered free game for the ambulatory patients, so we were responsible for guarding them. In this particular hospital, when a patient died, they were simply covered with a sheet and left in place sometimes for hours before the body was removed. The smell of death was rampant. This, too, was considered a civilized country.

I have seen socialism up close and personal. Despite the idealized view that politicians are promoting with alarming frequency in this country, from my observation socialism is not the sharing of wealth but the sharing of poverty! I find it interesting that in the socialist countries I have had the privilege to visit, it seems that the politically connected remain immune from the laws of forced sharing that everyone else must endure. Historically, socialism has proven to be a failed system. Why we think we will be any different is beyond my imagination.

Now all of these examples are in what we call civilized countries. What I have experienced in Third World countries is even worse. First, no, or little medical care. Illnesses easily treated in our country are death sentences in some of these Third World countries. Houses made out of cow dung. Floors that are nothing more than compacted, swept dirt. The stoves are a depression in the floor with an earthen mound around it and maybe a metal grate over it, if the family is “wealthy.” Bathrooms are a deep hole in the ground with a shed-like structure over it (at least that is the public bathroom in the town center). And the water you cook with, bathe in, drink and defecate in all are the same muddy source.

So, before you complain about what you don’t have, stop and consider what you do have! Be thankful for that!

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” (Philippians 4:12–13, TEV). In case you missed it, Paul says that thankfulness and contentment are a learned behavior not a natural one.

I hope you will take a minute and thank God for what you do have in this flawed country of ours. It is still so much better than what the majority of the world experiences.

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit or email


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.