Thanksgiving and gratitude

November 26, 2020

Gordon Mullin


From the earliest times of our nation, we have set aside this day to give thanks for what we have and acknowledge those who made it possible for us to enjoy the freedoms we relish, the wealth we possess and our continued bountiful wellbeing. So it is fitting that Thanksgiving follows so closely to Veterans Day, for those who served in our armed forces have guarded these, our unearned gifts, often with their very lives.

It is a time again for us to reflect upon what we have, and may I suggest, we live in the richest time in history in the freest country on earth and we enjoy a collective wealth that is the envy of the world.

For those lucky enough to find ourselves in the USA, the vast majority of us can enjoy and possess things that kings merely a century ago only dreamed of doing or owning. Yet, for the bulk of us, we understand that there is little that Bill Gates, with all his billions, can do that we cannot likewise accomplish.

Compared to a mere blink in time, say 50 years, our average life span has increased over a decade in length and many diseases which  killed millions during childhood in the last century are eradicated or exist only in pockets of the third world. Today, the USDA no longer measures hunger as to how many did not eat today but rather how many had ‘food insecurity’ within the last year. The days of starvation are gone and obesity is a significant health factor for the homeless.

Most of our middle class (and above) will spend half their adult lives in retirement, not working. Before WWII, only the very wealthy could afford any retirement at all. Now, a common consideration for almost all is not whether retirement but when.

Most of you reading this are ‘one percenters,’ in the top one percent of income and wealth on our planet. You only need to make $32,000 per year to find yourself in this fortunate group.

Compared to my grandparent’s time, homes are twice as large and all with rare exception have indoor plumbing and electricity (I lived for a time without). Most of those on welfare or receiving food stamps have TVs, computers, cell phones, refrigerators and air conditioning in their homes all of which didn’t exist a century ago.

A family who lives in the United States at our ‘poverty rate’ is better off than half the world.

We in western civilization and especially in North America, are safer, healthier (and fatter but that’s our fault), richer and have more leisure time, take more holidays (again a relatively new phenomenon) than any period in history. By any broad measure, we are collectively better off in every way relative to my childhood.

That said, why we don’t feel better off; happier? Why is it that we’re not giddy in consideration of our health and wealth? Why is it acceptable, even encouraged, to carp about our day, our wellbeing, our things, our time?

The reasons for this phenomenon can be debated and we all hear various explanations.

Seemingly, we are predisposed to push aside the recognition of gratitude as if it were of little value; it certainly ain’t cool. News largely consists of unusual or perilous events, not the everyday enjoyment of our blessings. However, this is Thanksgiving Day and we all could use a bit of gratitude with our turkey.

If I know anything, it is that the foundation of happiness rests upon gratitude. There are no happy ungrateful people just as there are no grateful unhappy folk.

So on this Thanksgiving Day let us lift our glasses and extend our thanks to those who came before us; those who created the world we enjoy. We receive without cost the inventiveness of our forefathers and reap the rewards of past generation’s efforts to build the society we live in.

To our ancestors and our gods- thank you. And to all of you who go to work every day, whether you get paid or not, and make this world a better place.

Thank you and happy Thanksgiving to us all.

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Too bad you baby boomers destroyed any chance at the generations that proceeds you, at enjoying things like owning a home, retirement, US manufacturing of goods….the list goes on. Enjoy your leisure lifestyle. Your grandkids will be paying for it.

And I’m sorry, no I’m not, threats of other religions failing because they have a different means of worship God, is not comforting. This belief system has caused systemic genocide and war and intolerance and brainwash and control for eons.

Actually, if you do some research, you’ll find that Western Europeans are not only healthier, but also have far more leisure time. Otherwise, I agree with you.

The US has an obesity problem, and with that, the many accompanying health factors most European countries do not have, due to their limited (in comparison to the US) variety of food choices, and less immediate access to fast food. This is the main factor to your health statement. Also, since many Euro states are socialist in policy, the people are required to not work, sometimes for months. Which is quite a bit different than “leisure time”.

Limited food choices in Europe? Not the last time I was there. But, sure, they don’t have a McDonald’s on every corner (although fast food is far more prevalent in W. Europe than it used to be, thanks to America’s corporations). As for leisure time, most Europeans are indeed mandated to take 20 days vacation time, all of which is paid. In fact, some Europeans get as many as 38 days paid vacation. Working class Americans don’t get anywhere near that many.

Well said, and amen