Count your 'ordinary blessings'
November 26, 2008 | Thanksgiving is tomorrow and we
all have a lot to be thankful for. Food is the most
obvious one, with most of us looking forward to a feast
grand enough to make Ghandi on a hunger strike drool.
Most of us also have at least one change of clothes
and a roof over our heads. Many of us even have cars.
We take these things for granted so often. It's great
that these things are on our minds at this time of year
(or should be, rather), but why do we need a holiday
to make us count our blessings? Perhaps the best way
to realize what we have is to consider the simple things
others might not have.
Let's take water. We have drinking fountains in every
building on campus, in every church house, in almost
every store, all flowing with a cool stream of clean
drinking water. What comes out of our taps? Unpolluted
H2O goodness. How many people in the world are without
this simple miracle of civilization? And this is even
ignoring the miracle that is indoor plumbing. That's
a lot to be thankful for even with just a flushing toilet
when it's 20-below and a raging blizzard outside.
What about feeling relatively secure when you walk
across campus? How lovely is it that we can ride on
buses and walk down sidewalks and through shopping centers
with at the most a very, very small chance of being
attacked or the victim of a terrorist attack?
Many people are unhappy with the results of our recent
election. Have you paused to think about how unusual
that is to have democracy? The small margins of victory
of candidates and bills are evidence that each vote
really does count. Isn't that something for which we
can all be deeply grateful? Even if things didn't go
the way we wanted this time, there's always next election.
And the assurance that our country will most likely
still be here and enjoying the freedom of a collective
decision is a pretty comforting one.
Some of us might just see Thanksgiving as a break
before finals during which we can catch up on a little
homework and studying, or perhaps as the deceptive calm
before the storm. This is a very stressful time of year
for everyone and many of us can hardy wait for the time
when we won't have school (at least for a few weeks).
But look at the bright side: we're going to school!
We're going to college, people. Do you know how rare
an opportunity that is in the global scheme of things?
Even within the nation it is not yet the norm.
Instead of sleeping through classes or Facebooking
on your laptop (sorry -- "taking notes"), try paying
attention and learning something. You are paying more
each semester than many people make in a year to get
an education. Celebrate! When the professor hands out
a test, smile and say a prayer of thanks. Say "Yes!
I have a chance to fail an exam most of the world will
never have the opportunity to take!"
Life is good. Remember that after Thanksgiving, after
Christmas and into the new year.