If you read the news you’re bound to feel anxious and depressed. You’d have to be a psychopath not to feel that way. The world is plenty grim through the eyes of the media, and it’s always been that way. It was the same in the 1800’s and in Roman times, nothing’s changed. We seek out danger as a species; it’s what we do. It’s not only the news, it’s our innate tendency to purvey distress. We’re simply hard-wired that way. Programed to be on the lookout for danger. Whatever it is; a threatening person, an annoying somebody who’s after our money or our connections – whatever it is we feel is our basic resource for survival. But that built-in survival mechanism, while native to each of us, is our most primitive self. It is the most primal, the most animal part of our beings.
Thanksgiving is the opportunity for America to counter that primitivism. The way we do that, and the thing that makes this holiday so special, is that we are given the opportunity as a nation to express our gratitude.
Gratitude is a uniquely human attribute. When done with intention it represents the perfect antidote, not only for the tragic things we’re assailed with in the media hour by hour, it is the perfect cure for our tendency as human beings to revert to our most base instincts. To set at the forefront of one’s mind, the sense that we are blessed, in ways large and small, is the pathway to making us strong, principled women and men.
We are told that we need more things; bigger toys, bigger homes, spouses and friends that look one way (and not the other)… that we need more money, more power and more fame. These are just artifacts of our primitive natures; they are not true aspirations.
To be thankful for the beauty of the small things…that’s the trick. To be filled with gratitude for the things that cost us nothing, that give us no bragging rights, that allow us no more than the cognizance of the joy of simply being alive on a planet – a home that despite its problems, is replete with an abundance of beauty, of wonder and astounding possibilities for discovery.
Today, we as a nation will, in whichever way we choose, take a moment to reflect on our blessings and in so doing, become more human. It is that humanity which will eventually, bring us all to a place of knowing. The essential knowledge that comes as a result of gratitude is that we are brothers and sisters all, on a beautiful ball that spins with constancy, in the endlessness of space.
That today we have the opportunity to do this together, is in itself a thing to be grateful for.