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home : opinions : columns July 22, 2014


11/27/2013 6:00:00 AM
COLUMN: Giving thanks
Bob Weete
Essay

Here we are, again, at Thanksgiving time. Strange that it comes so close to Christmas, isn't it? I bet that wasn't just a coincidence.

Strange, too, is the observation that so many people seem to spend their entire life at the complaint counter, And when there so many opportunities for gratitude and thankfulness. What a sad waste of time. Especially for those of us who have been blessed by the simple fact that we are Americans.

We are told about what a terrible life we have here in America. Gee, that is so sad. We hear the question about whether our cup is half-full or half-empty. Americans' answer should be: "I am thankful that I have a cup."

There are millions of people in the world who are not so lucky. We take our good fortune for granted, instead of with total gratitude. Isn't that sad? Yes, there are Americans who don't have "much" in the way of material things. It is said that "the poor will always be with us." A truth, but it is a given, and we need to understand that and quit whining about it.

I know, and accept the fact that there are millionaires and even billionaires. Compared to them, I am "poor"; yet, in many ways I, like you, have much "more" than any of them. If I believe that my happiness comes only through the number of toys I have, the fanciest cars, a mansion-like house with maids, servants, butler, and all, by "rights" I should be terribly unhappy.

It is also been said that money doesn't make one happy; yet, we have people clamoring to buy lottery tickets. We have all heard the stories of those who "won" millions of dollars and they wind up even worse off than they were before. It is what is in your soul, which is made up by your beliefs, attitudes, and character that leads to happiness. Your beliefs, your attitude and your character don't break, or get lost, or wear out.

That is, if they prevent you from lusting after symbols of "success" that are really just objects, and nothing more. As they say, "You can't take it with you", and we fail to avoid those temptations that we think will "make" us happy. "We" can make ourselves happy; our happiness actually depends not upon things that you can see, feel, touch. True.

Yes, most of us have a roof over our heads. Millions of people are not so blessed. Yes, our "roof" may not be a mansion, it may not be "fancy", but it keeps the weather out. Most of us have good health, but again, there are millions of people who do not have their health, and they have no way to escape that.

In America, we are blessed to have the opportunity to live in a free society where we can learn or do what we want to educate ourselves for a new career. Millions do not have that opportunity, a fact of life we don't acknowledge.

And we are all blessed to have friends and family that love us and care about us. Millions in this world are not so blessed. Yes, I know we sometimes have family "problems" and some count their blessings by the number of friends we have. All we really need is one good friend. True. Just one good one, and we need to be a good friend to just one person, too.

"In everyone's life, at some time," says Albert Schweitzer, "our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."

And so, as we enter this season, let us all focus on the glass that is half full, let us focus on our attitudes that allow us to see and appreciate outwardly the gratitude for the common, ordinary opportunities that we have, we have always had, and, if we share it, we can help others to find that "It is a Wonderful Life," if we choose the right perspective.

As you reflect on this special day of Thanksgiving, watch the Macy's Parade, watch whatever football game you want, and make your own day more special by learning how to be thankful for what you and yours have, rather than what you don't have. You may find that "things" are not as important as you thought.

William Arthur Ward expressed it this way: "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."

My wish for you at this time is this:

"May you see and be thankful for all the blessings you have and may many more come your way. And may you experience the blessing that life has to offer when you find the good in every situation. Humor oils the wheels of life and helps to keep it running smoothly."

~ Dorothea Kopplin





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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Article comment by: Lisa Z

Dear Mr. Weete,

How do you choose where to use quotation marks? I used to think it was wherever you were going for a sarcastic inflection, but after reading this column I'm thinking you use them for decoration. Please advise.

"Sincerely,"

Quotes McGoats




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