Its Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. A “holiday” that has become more and more clouded with retail visions – rather than a point of giving thanks for what we have in our lives. I have plenty to give thanks for – a new job where my skill set is appreciated, and wanted. People that are unrelated to me that are true family. The freedom to be able to follow my own religious beliefs and convictions. And the freedom to follow any intellectual path I desire.
I have a lot of other things that I am grateful to have – but these are material possessions, and I find that I have far fewer things that I “need” to have – but am still thankful for their presence in my life. Technology – with which I would not be able to be in contact with many people I know, central air and heating, which make my life a little more comfortable in the winter and summer months, and a reliable vehicle with which I can travel.
See? Plenty of things there – including a handful of “nice to have” material possessions — and I have yet to set foot into a retail shop or head off on a spending binge for any other item. And its that part of materialism that has really gotten me to start watching the world around me – and shaking my head with a mixture of confusion, disgust, and a touch of despair. Add in a rather strong dose of “the whole world is against me because of (add your own descriptive here)” — and you get a part of today’s society that I just do not understand.
Perhaps its a matter of my time in the US Air Force, and the people I was stationed with. When the going got too tough, we stepped back, and found a less difficult way to get things finished. Sometimes, that meant breaking the rules. Sometimes, it meant exploring a path that lead to nowhere, and then coming back and starting over. Whatever the case may have been, we looked at such moments as obstacles to overcome, and the changing nature of the environment to achieve that success as a way to find creative solutions…sometimes so unorthodox, that it raised eyebrows from others. Whatever it needed to be, we found a way.
I have carried that into my life, along with an additional piece of advice I got from one of my supervisors: “Fight the battles you have to fight. Step aside from the battles that won’t have any meaning in the future. Wisdom comes from figuring out which battles are worth the fight.” And that Wisdom has comes at a hefty price…where I chose the wrong battle. But over time, I have learned which battles will have more meaning to me than others.
For instance, when people rail about pro-football quarterback Michael Vick’s dog fighting past, I share their concerns over what his role was in all of that. But there are those that are super passionate about these kinds of things, and cannot forgive him for what he has done. They continually rail on his ability to earn a living as a pro-football quarterback, and denigrate his character whenever they get the chance to do so. I am not as passionate about the issue, and I believe in second-chances for anyone. So I don’t share in their desire to heap derision and anger upon Mr. Vick and/or his employer(s). I certainly give thanks that America is a society of second-chance opportunities – if it were not, I would be in a bad spot, considering all the wrong choices I made back in my twenties.
I know there are those who will not agree with me – and I am certainly “ok” with that. After all, I live in a country where individual expression and opinion are valued – so long as you are not harming someone else in that action.
I know that current events have some folks angry about one thing or another. In today’s uber-hyper-political environment – someone, somewhere is angry about one thing or another that has been or is being perceived as being done to them. My point is that you can set that angry to the side for just a few moments…and find something to give some positive thought to instead. I know I am doing that – or trying to do my best – each and every single day. And to be honest, its been something that has certainly made a difference in my outlook for the day. Give it a try…see if you like it. What’s it going to hurt??