Thursday, November 22, 2007

Separating Thanks From Giving

There is so much to be thankful for; where do we begin? Our health? Our families? Much of our good fortunes are, let's face it, taken for granted. Yet, so much of what we give thanks for exists in the form of material things.

I might be thankful for my big-screen TV, but could I survive without it? Of course! With winter coming, I will be thankful for my snow blower. While a snow blower makes snow removal easier, could I live without it? Sure, even if it does save stress and strain on my back.

Rather than ramble on with a list of countless material belongings, perhaps I should take a less myopic view of what is and isn't important. I thought long and hard on this matter as I was committing these words to screen, only to find it to be a challenge. Beyond health and family, important as they are, what else should I be thankful for that is not a worldly possession?

How can I be thankful for peace when there is so much conflict in the world? What right have I to be thankful for the feast upon our Thanksgiving table, when so many in the world are dying of hunger? How can I be so callous and shallow to be thankful for the freedoms I enjoy, when so many in the world are oppressed?

A strange and disconcerting thought has crept into my train of my thought. I don't wish people to be dying in wars. I don't wish people to be starving to death. I don't wish people to suffer under cruel dictatorships. Yet, that troubling thought persists.

In a cruel twist of warped decency, could it be that we are meant to be thankful for all that is wrong on this blue planet we all share? Does suffering exist for no other reason than to humble those who suffer not?

Perhaps we take so much for granted in attempt to shield ourselves from the state of the world. Thus, not only are we thankful for what we have, but also thankful for not having less.

I see now for what I am truly thankful. I'm thankful that there is a God who has given me the foresight to appreciate what I have, the knowledge to recognize what is to be valued, and the heart to realize that there are those less fortunate. On the other hand, I am thankful that He has not freely given me the power or drive to correct the world's inequities. No, that power is to be learned and shared. One cannot act as many, many must act as one.

I am thankful to be able to reason that my material possessions and desires pale in the grand scheme of this existence we know as life. I am thankful that I know that the "me's" and "I's" must become "we."

I am thankful that I have this forum that I might reach out to you, that we might see the day when we all act as one. Then all can truly be thankful.

In a light-hearted way I think this cartoon captures my thoughts. We need to get off our collective derrieres, and instead of dwelling on our personal wants, to concentrate on the needs of others.


1 comment:

Jack K. said...

A great idea.