Posted: November 24, 2009
An attitude of gratitude
Even in tough times, there's much to be thankful forBy John Heckers
This Thursday, as we all know, is Thanksgiving Day. I refuse to call it "Turkey Day," because I believe that being thankful is one of the most important things we can do as a people. And we have much to be thankful for, even in this difficult economy. Here are some of the things I'm thankful for, and I hope you are, too.
1). Our political disputes don't result in civil war. We live in a country where we try to induce change through the ballot box, not AK-47's or M-16's. No matter how impolite the debate gets, people in our country are not shooting at one another over our political disagreements. While the debates could and should be a great deal more civil than they are, we still should be thankful that being a member of whatever "loyal opposition" there is does not get one a prison sentence, limbs cut off, a death squad visit, or a bullet in the back. This, unfortunately, is not the case in many countries.
2). 75 percent of our country is employed. Yes, it is terrible that we have an effective 25 percent unemployment and underemployment rate. Yet the mall parking lots will be jammed on "Black Friday," and for most of the rest of the Holiday Season. Most people are still employed. This is not true many other places in the world.
3). We have the freedom to change jobs, careers, locations and most other parts of our lives.
4). Most people have homes and food. It is certainly terrible that so many will go homeless and hungry in our nation this Holiday Season and every other time. It is a great blot on our country that we should have any who are hungry or who have no homes. And yet, most people do have homes and most people, while they may not eat as they would like to eat, still do not go to bed hungry.
5). Even in a "Depression," we have abundance. This "Depression" is very little like the one of 1929. Even most of those who have lost their jobs are able to keep a home, keep feeding the family, keep on the cable and the internet, etc. We have abundance unimagined in human history.
6). We live in a era of technical marvels. When I bought my first hard-drive, it held ten whole megabytes! Who would ever use that much? Now we're speaking in terabytes. We have wonders surrounding us that we take very much for granted, yet would stun and amaze 99.99 percent of human history.
7). Most people grow up. Our medical system, as broken as it is, still allows most babies to grow into adulthood, and adults to live to record ages. Through most of human history, and still through large parts of the world, most people died in infancy. Those who did live to adulthood were considered quite elderly at 50. Now "50 is the new 30."
8). Women have unprecedented freedom. Through most of human history, women were seen as property and treated very poorly. While we still have a very long way to go, women have more choices and more freedom today than ever before in history.
9). Minorities are mostly respected. I understand that there is still discrimination, some of it very nasty, out there. This is a blight on our nation. Yet America just elected a Black President. Blacks, Hispanics, and so on, have rights that have rarely been accorded by nations to ethnic or religious minorities. History tells us that minorities are usually persecuted, enslaved, killed, or a gruesome combination of the above. As terrible as discrimination is here, we've, again, come a long way.
10). We have freedom of the press and the right to dissent. If you don't like what I just said, you can comment on it and say I'm full of it, and ColoradoBiz Magazine will publish it. I can write what I wish without fear of prison or execution. This is incredibly rare in human history.
These are 10 things I'm grateful for. I hope that this Thanksgiving, among the football games, the table groaning with a feast that only kings could afford in past ages, and the time with family, you will reflect on everything we have to be thankful for. I also hope that you will maintain this attitude of gratitude every day of the year. We truly live in a marvelous and unprecedented age. We need to remember that as we're solving the very real challenges we face.
John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.