This special day rolls around just once a year, reminding us to be thankful for everything we have. But just what is it that we should be most thankful for? Some thoughts:
Most often our appreciation centers around the things we enjoy as possessions. We have been taught in our culture that material wealth brings happiness. Oh, we wouldn’t be so crass as openly broadcast this, but what message does Black Friday really send? We also center thankfulness on our relationships with family and friends, which is, of course, much more admirable but still often flirting with self-centeredness.
What about peace? What about security? As I look at Tahrir Square or Syria, I am instantly reminded that much of the world lives with the daily fear of instability and turmoil. We have very few of these problems as a nation, though some do their best to make it so. But why have we been given the blessing of peace and security? Why are we so privileged? It’s because of those who have gone before us, laying solid ground both on which to stand and to build.
We often forget that all we have come to enjoy has been made possible by the sweat and tears of our ancestors. We tend to think that it is our right to enjoy such a privileged lifestyle. Yet we never would have what we do if it were not for their dedication and perseverance. We would be where they once were, needing to build for our own future and the future of our descendants.
And this brings us to what should be a logical conclusion: what are we doing to build not only for ourselves but also for future generations? Are we merely thankful for what we enjoy while ignoring our responsibility to others? Have we come to take entitlements for granted? Are we a part of the solutions to our country’s challenges, or are we a contributor to its problems.
Our thankfulness not only on this day but each and every day needs to be centered in our ability to give, not merely what we have given, rememering that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”