Friday, November 21, 2008

The Parent of All Virtues

Despite current global political and economic issues, Thanksgiving is even more a time for giving thanks. As witnessed earlier this month, the transition of power, while not always amicable, sustains the principles that have governed since the inception of the United States. Though not a guarantee, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is still a tangible ideal beyond mere words on an aged parchment. Ultimately, opportunities exist consistent with the choices we make, with only our own hesitations for seizing upon them the true limitation. For those and other reasons, Americans should be thankful to live in such a country.

As the Cold War came to an end, those born during that tumultuous period of the late 1980s/early 1990s are now coming of age and leading toward the future. In the U.S., the founding members of that post-collapse generation voted in their first presidential election; some of those same individuals are engaged in defending and spreading those values in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a blessing that the voice of the people matters, and to have those willing to sacrifice to protect that right. It was not the case in parts of the world twenty years ago, and even today, the fight continues to ensure and maintain it around the globe.

One of the best ways to experience expressions of thankfulness is a visit to the airport. There is no joke here about people gratified about landing safely or that their arrival/departure is on time. It would be too easy. No, the true source is in the people themselves. A mother, refreshed from a vacation with friends, hugging her little boy once disembarked. Thankful for the week of rest, more so for the one thing that matters most in her life. Or the soldier, fresh from a tour of duty himself, waiting for his buddies to arrive in town as well. It will be like old times, before the world’s problems called. Thankful they get another day.

Then there is Helen, recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankful it was caught in time, well aware that it could have been worse. Whether it contributed or not, she admits to a twenty-year smoking habit. Perhaps, it could have been lung cancer; thankfully, it was not. Her friend is en route from Omaha, taking the first flight out once she heard the news. They have not seen each other in ten years, but it will be just like yesterday Helen enthuses. When they meet, the joyful tears and enthusiastic roar echo throughout baggage claim. Perhaps it has been ten years, but it is just like yesterday.

Too often, we are bombarded by the grotesqueries of humanity, weakening the potential of the human spirit to overcome such things. Though not unique in the course of mankind, it is an uncertain world in uncertain times. Even so, as you sit down with friends and family this year, take the time to consider for what there is to be thankful. You may find that there is a lot, even if it may seem trifling.

©2008 Steve Sagarra