Giving Thanks a Bit Early

I’ve been hearing a lot of complaining lately in the blogs, on television and all through my Twitter feed. It’s nothing unusual, mind you. Mostly just the normal litany of gripes about TSA searches, idiotic politicians, ineffective policies and more. But a couple of comments which caught my eye dealt with one observation which gave me pause.

There’s probably 3/4 of the world that gets pretty cheesed off when they hear people living in America complaining about anything.

That’s a comment that may be worth dwelling on a bit today for those of you living here in this best of all possible worlds. Like many of you (I hope) I have more than a few items in my personal life to be very thankful for, including a wonderful family, a nice home to keep me warm and dry, and good friends. But on this occasion I would like us to take a moment and think more globally, remembering that no matter how bad things get, if you live here in America you have a cornucopia of blessings for which to be thankful.

Some of us have been rather unhappy with the policies of our president and the direction Congress has been taking the country. But just a couple of weeks ago we marched off to the voting booths and sent dozens of them packing without ever having to fire a shot. There are probably many people in China (for just one example) who aren’t wild about their government either. But the difference is, if they speak up about it they’re still likely to disappear in the middle of the night and never be seen again.

We hear many concerns about the future viability of the Social Security system, whether or not to extend unemployment benefits and other related issues. Those are totally valid questions which deserve answers, and we need to work on them. But there are many, many places on this Earth today where, if you fall through the cracks and can no longer feed and shelter yourself, you’ll simply die.

The media takes a lot of abuse here – much of it justified – and some of us pine wistfully for a better fourth estate. But today I am remembering that there are nations where corrupt governments control every facet of information distribution and many citizens have no concept of the internet or cable television.

I was blessed to be born in a nation which in just the span of my own lifetime made technological leaps which took us from prop driven planes to rocket ships which landed on the moon and Mars. In the Amazon basin of South America there are still small bands of people who have rarely even seen an electric light bulb.

If I or my family become ill or suffer serious injury there is top notch emergency medical help only a phone call away which can reach us in minutes. That’s more rare than most of us can imagine compared to the many impoverished regions of the world.

The children of this generation who live in my neighborhood will, with only a modicum of effort, be able to obtain at least a high school education, and have a high probability of obtaining some form of college degree. In Afghanistan – to name only one region – the vast majority of people are completely illiterate.

Even in my not terribly large suburb I can pick from more than two dozen churches of all faiths to attend. Or I can choose to attend none at all. Billions of people around the globe will live their entire lives and die without enjoying that choice.

If you were born in America, no matter your circumstances, you were given a tremendous gift. And before Thanksgiving day comes and goes with all of the filling meals, football and reunions with family and friends, take a moment to give thanks not just for the specific blessings you enjoy personally, but for the truly remarkable land of bounty in which you find yourself.

I know I tend to forget that far too often, taking these things for granted and whining about any discomfort I may suffer. I’ll try to do a little better in the future. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May this holiday season see you all healthy, happy and grateful for the many bounties we enjoy here in America.