Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

Like many Americans probably do, I spent the days leading up to Thanksgiving thinking about the things I am grateful for. The list is extensive and includes a loving family, supportive friends, a stable job and my wonderful readers. But it occurred to me that what I am most thankful for is what I consider to be a “guardian angel” that helps guide my life. This might not be the literal sort of angel described in scripture (though I am open to the possibility that it could be), but some sort of guiding force that helps things “work out for the best,” as is the saying. At the very least, it can be described as good fortune.

I have faced challenges both large and small in my young life. Though I credit good advice, helpful people and hard work for overcoming most of the trials, I also believe that some invisible force guides me to those right people and things at the right time to solve my problems. After all, my right people, place and time started right at birth, as I was born to parents who were able to emigrate to the zenith of First World civilization so that I could have a promising future.

A difficult but overall fortunate series of events has led me to this moment of sitting in my New York apartment at my top of the line computer to write this article. But at this very moment, there are 1.3 BILLION people who do not have access to enough electricity to turn on a light bulb, let alone fire up an Internet connected computer. And as I sit and salivate over the turkey and trimmings I will enjoy in just a few hours, 870 million people don’t have enough food to sustain proper nourishment, let alone eat the estimated 4,500 calories on a typical Thanksgiving plate.

How is it that my life has worked out so fortunately when such an astronomical number of people lack even the most basic essentials that I often take for granted?

It is a question I cannot answer, but it is one that I find important to consider because it puts life in perspective. When I was younger, I used to think that the seemingly endless amount of financial hardship and health problems my family and I have faced for the majority of our American experience made me someone because together we’d been to hell and back. But in my adult life, as I have been able to pursue my dreams and goals, I slowly learned that the thing that makes me someone is being thankful for the many blessings I do have and giving something back to those that have less.

I write this piece not to be self-righteous or to manipulate my readers into feeling guilty over enjoying their Thanksgiving meals and life’s myriad blessings. I will certainly enjoy mine. And, despite my best intentions, I’m sure there will be many moments in the coming year when I slip and again take my blessings for granted. To be human is to be fallible. But to be human is also to reason and strive. With this piece, it is my hope and intention merely to encourage reflection. Though I do not believe this is true of my readers, it is becoming an indisputable fact that the holiday America created to give thanks is turning into nothing more than an excuse for Americans to gorge themselves before heading out to stand in long lines and trample each other to buy huge amounts of stuff they do not need. I hope this article can serve as a drop in the pond to encourage all of usmyself includedto strive to appreciate our lives (even) more.

On a deeper, personal note, I wish a happy Thanksgiving to my dear readers! On this day of gratitude, I am especially thankful for your continued interest, insightful comments and warm support. Some of you are strangers whom I have never met while others are friends or family members. However, whether you know me personally or not, you haven't given me a free pass when my writing has been off or my analysis missed an essential point. Thank you for considering what I have to say, the intellectual discourse you provide, and encouraging me to continue to evolve and strengthen my craft. As Pulse of My Nation proceeds into its second year, I look forward to sharing more of my work with you and receiving your ideas and encouragement.