A New Perspective 11-25-2004: Thanksgiving

Golden Gate Gazette

November 25, 2004

In honor of Thanksgiving, you’ll find several stories of thanks in this week’s issue. Some stories focus on service to community, others on overcoming adversity and giving unto others.
It seems it is human nature to recognize the problems in life, rather than focusing on the positives. We brag about how much worse we have it than others.
It seems in order to be thankful, we have to overcome some type of trial to really appreciate the many good things that we take for granted. Reading about other people’s struggles helps us appreciate the good things we have in life.
I purchased a book called “Letters of a Nation,” which is filled with actual letters of concern, advice, and teaching from famous and not so famous people. The letters cover a 350-year timeline that begins in the early 1600s during the early formative years of America and leads up to current-day issues.
The letters within the book reach to the heart and soul of what it means to be human and overcome the obstacles we have faced in our struggle to become a strong nation.
For Thanksgiving, I went to a chapter called “Letters of Faith and Hope.” One letter was written by Mark Twain, who wasn’t known for optimistic and hopeful writings. In fact, one of his early quotes reads, “When I get over to the other side, I shall use my influence to have the human race drowned again, and this time drowned good, no omissions, no Ark.”
Maybe Twain’s only positive message was a letter written to Walt Whitman on May 24, 1889 on Whitman’s’ 70th birthday. In the letter, he wrote about the great innovations that had taken place during Whitman’s lifetime. Mentioned were the steam press, the steamship, the steelship, the railroad, the perfect cotton gin, the telegraph, the phonograph, the photogravure, the electrotype, the gaslight, the electric light, the sewing machine, and the innumerable products of coal tar. Also mentioned were the invention of anesthesia, the end of slavery, the end of the French monarchy and the reduction of the influence of the monarchy in England.
Most of those things don’t make our ‘thankful lists’ any more. We take them for granted because we have always had them and most of them have been replaced with newer and better inventions that we also take for granted.
Another 30 years and we will marvel at new inventions that people 30 years from now will take for granted.
There are many things that cannot be taken for granted. Today, we have US citizens risking and losing their lives to create a safer world. War is horrible, but because of these valiant efforts and the sacrifices of past wars, we live in a country where we have rights that allow us to complain, argue, voice our opinions, and pretty much do what we want as long as we don’t cross the law.
Many people are dealing with health problems that we can hardly imagine having to deal with. Yet, we take our health and our family’s health for granted.
This week we celebrated three 2004 Citizen of the Year finalists, Karen Acquard, Don Peterson and Neno Spagna, who have worked tirelessly to make our community a better place. We can be grateful to them for their efforts in making our lives better.
You will find tell the best way to show your gratitude for the good deeds of others is to go out and do those same things for someone else. It keeps the cycle of goodness and thankfulness alive and well.

“The finest test of character is seen in the amount and the power of gratitude we have.”
Milo H Gates