This Thanksgiving, Choose Gratitude over Grievance

 

Political commentators spend most of their days following the awful things happening in the world. Bad news, after all, is what dominates the news cycle.

War, death, poverty, and injustice (and the occasional cat video) fill our laptop screens from the moment we wake until we go to bed. By the fourth day of the workweek, it’s easy to cycle between outrage and despair.

People on all sides succumb to this emotional low road, which is why there’s so much anger about failed politicians, terrible policies, and broken promises. Our grandparents would yell at the newspaper, our parents at the TV, but now everyone can hear our complaints. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube spread everyone’s misery worldwide.

In recent years, protesters have shut down freeways and rampaged through neighborhoods while students at even the most exclusive universities screech about the raw deal they got in life.

Through the miracle of technology, the less motivated can protest from their sofas. They can “cancel” a rich celebrity for a clumsy statement, boycott a company for a lousy policy and bully random citizens caught behaving badly in a viral video. It feels good to blame others for the mess we’re in — and a lot easier than contemplating our own shortcomings.

Modern America has replaced virtue with victimhood, and the nation is poorer for it. Granted, the United States remains one of the wealthiest nations in the history of mankind, but we’ve trained ourselves not to recognize this obvious fact. Even to mention the manifold (and nearly miraculous) blessings of American life is a form of hate speech to some.

In a far meaner age, Cicero said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” An attitude of thankfulness is a choice free to everyone — even those plagued with peace, relative prosperity, and the latest iPhone. It’s easier in the short term to whine but it makes for a downright miserable life — not only for ourselves, but also for the dwindling number of people who surround us.

This Thanksgiving, and in the days to follow, choose gratitude. Be thankful for the nation, for your life, for those whom you love and those who love you, flaws and all. Like a muscle, you can strengthen this virtue with regular exercise.

Instead of complaining about that dumb politician you hate, think about the one you like and send them a note of encouragement. An unexpected “thank you” to a co-worker, teacher, or customer service rep could shock those used to endless complaints, but will make their day.

Another old Roman, Seneca, wrote that we even should be thankful for the most “fleeting and slippery possession” of all — the time we have left on Earth.

“Such is the great foolishness of mortals, that they allow the least important, cheapest, and easily replaceable objects to be charged to their accounts after they have received them,” he said. “But they never consider themselves to be in debt when they have received time; and yet this is the one thing that even a grateful recipient can never repay.”

None of us know if we have a day left or decades, but we should choose to spend each minute in gratitude. On this uniquely American holiday, choose to be thankful — genuinely thankful — for all you’ve been given. But more importantly, choose to be thankful on Friday as well. And on Saturday and on Sunday.

Every day should be Thanksgiving. It only takes the choice to make it so.

Originally published in the Arizona Republic.

Published in Culture
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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Thanks, Jon. Beautiful sentiments; words to live by.

    • #1
  2. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    • #2
  3. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I wish this post could be the headline on every major publication, especially the ones who jump on the awful headlines that you mention.  “Modern America has replaced virtue with victimhood, and the nation is poorer for it.” This is an important quote and unfortunately the truth. Yet it reminds me of the words of Jesus who said “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” 

    The sludge you describe that passes for journalism and social media reminds me of a polluted river. We all jump in and ride the wave, then realizing that not only is the current taking us to places we don’t want to go, but the water is becoming polluted. Your post is a reminder to jump out and rinse off! Only then with a clear mind can we see.  What I think we are seeing are headlines and stories that make us think the worst, and it’s deliberate. I’m not sure why but as you say, it’s clickbait and how they make money. Facebook was recently found to be pushing the extremes and called out on it. There you go.  We’re not pawns on a chessboard to be used for marketing and even more nefarious schemes.

    I want to send this post to my friends and family. Yes – this is a special Thanksgiving because our eyes are being opened.

    • #3
  4. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    I want to send this post to my friends and family. Yes – this is a special Thanksgiving because our eyes are being opened.

    Since it’s on the Main Feed you can just “link” them to it, but it might be more effective to copy the text, in case they have limited computer literacy or just don’t think they should click on “Ricochet” or something.

    • #4
  5. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    We can’t hear this enough. We all need to remember how good we actually have it, and be grateful to all those that keep the miracle of our modern world running everyday.

    The politicians and Silicon Valley sultans would all be in a world of hurt if your Joe Six-pack’s decided not to show up to work. 

    • #5
  6. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Z in MT (View Comment):

    We can’t hear this enough. We all need to remember how good we actually have it, and be grateful to all those that keep the miracle of our modern world running everyday.

    The politicians and Silicon Valley sultans would all be in a world of hurt if your Joe Six-pack’s decided not to show up to work.

    i.e., if they stayed at home to “work” like those sultans etc think everyone should.

    • #6
  7. Sean Keegan Coolidge
    Sean Keegan
    @Anthracite

    Excellent post. Thank you Jon and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • #7
  8. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Z in MT (View Comment):
    The politicians and Silicon Valley sultans would all be in a world of hurt if your Joe Six-pack’s decided not to show up to work. 

    I’m grateful for both Joe Six-pack and the rich industrialists.  They’re all necessary to give us the modern life of convenience that we all enjoy.

    • #8
  9. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Z in MT (View Comment):
    The politicians and Silicon Valley sultans would all be in a world of hurt if your Joe Six-pack’s decided not to show up to work.

    I’m grateful for both Joe Six-pack and the rich industrialists. They’re all necessary to give us the modern life of convenience that we all enjoy.

    Yet it’s the oligarchs and the rich industrialists who too often seem to think they can get along without the regular people.

    • #9
  10. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Z in MT (View Comment):
    The politicians and Silicon Valley sultans would all be in a world of hurt if your Joe Six-pack’s decided not to show up to work.

    I’m grateful for both Joe Six-pack and the rich industrialists. They’re all necessary to give us the modern life of convenience that we all enjoy.

    Yet it’s the oligarchs and the rich industrialists who too often seem to think they can get along without the regular people.

    I highly doubt this.  If there were no regular people, who would rich oligarchs sell their products and services to?  Most of the rich people got rich buy selling products to the masses, not a small number of other rich people.  Do you think there are a lot of business people who wish their clientele ill?

    In the United States of America, the vast majority of the millionaires and billionaires were born into the middle or lower classes themselves.  This isn’t some feudalistic society where there is a permanent nobility class and a permanent peasant class.

    • #10
  11. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Z in MT (View Comment):
    The politicians and Silicon Valley sultans would all be in a world of hurt if your Joe Six-pack’s decided not to show up to work.

    I’m grateful for both Joe Six-pack and the rich industrialists. They’re all necessary to give us the modern life of convenience that we all enjoy.

    Yet it’s the oligarchs and the rich industrialists who too often seem to think they can get along without the regular people.

    I highly doubt this. If there were no regular people, who would rich oligarchs sell their products and services to? Most of the rich people got rich buy selling products to the masses, not a small number of other rich people. Do you think there are a lot of business people who wish their clientele ill?

    In the United States of America, the vast majority of the millionaires and billionaires were born into the middle or lower classes themselves. This isn’t some feudalistic society where there is a permanent nobility class and a permanent peasant class.

    That’s true in reality, but the left doesn’t want to live in reality, and many of them can afford not to.  At least as far as they can see right away.  And Bill Gates for one sure doesn’t seem to think he needs the common people.

    • #11
  12. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    kedavis (View Comment):
    That’s true in reality, but the left doesn’t want to live in reality, and many of them can afford not to.  At least as far as they can see right away.  And Bill Gates for one sure doesn’t seem to think he needs the common people.

    Bill Gates is a mixed bag for me.  He has done some things I agree with, he has made statements I adamantly oppose.  But for all of its sins, Microsoft has made this a more productive — and therefore rich — world.  Even if Bill Gates is strictly on your naughty list, is it sensible to judge an entire economic class based on a few people you dislike?

    • #12
  13. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    That’s true in reality, but the left doesn’t want to live in reality, and many of them can afford not to. At least as far as they can see right away. And Bill Gates for one sure doesn’t seem to think he needs the common people.

    Bill Gates is a mixed bag for me. He has done some things I agree with, he has made statements I adamantly oppose. But for all of its sins, Microsoft has made this a more productive — and therefore rich — world. Even if Bill Gates is strictly on your naughty list, is it sensible to judge an entire economic class based on a few people you dislike?

    He’s far from alone.

    • #13
  14. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    See the source image

    • #14
  15. Norm McDonald Bought The Farm Coolidge
    Norm McDonald Bought The Farm
    @Pseudodionysius

    I am thankful I am Canadian and was able to celebrate Thanksgiving in October and that I am not yet in a quarantine camp.

    #brightside

    • #15
  16. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    I want to send this post to my friends and family. Yes – this is a special Thanksgiving because our eyes are being opened.

    Since it’s on the Main Feed you can just “link” them to it, but it might be more effective to copy the text, in case they have limited computer literacy or just don’t think they should click on “Ricochet” or something.

    Yes – I just link many stories – too many good stories on this site!

    • #16
  17. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Good post!  Excellent advice.  This is a wonderfully American holiday which we should all be proud of.  On giving thanks I came across this wonderful quote:

    “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” – St. Ambrose

    I don’t know the context of that quote, and given he’s a saint we can assume part of the thanks is toward God.  But he also may be referring to our duty to give thanks to each other.  We should have an “urgent” duty to give thanks to those who do us a favor or help us out.  Then indirectly, just as in Christ’s two commandments (“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matt. 22:37-40) you are also giving thanks to God.

    Who is the old guy cutting the turkey in the graphic?  He looks very familiar.

    • #17
  18. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    • #18
  19. Nick Plosser Coolidge
    Nick Plosser
    @NickP

    Perfectly expressed and a reminder that I needed today. Happy Thanksgiving Jon and to everyone at Ricochet! 

    • #19
  20. Quintus Sertorius Coolidge
    Quintus Sertorius
    @BillGollier

    Beautiful post!!!

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone….I have so much to be thankful for….one being this community!! This is a wonderful place to be and to learn!!

    Thanks everyone for being amazing you!!

    • #20
  21. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I am thankful to still live in a country where we can whine, moan, complain, and seek redress of grievances.  

    • #21
  22. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    On this most American of Holidays, choose gratitute.  Great post Jon.

    • #22