By Steve Galea
I think most people know that Thanksgiving isn’t for everyone. It is very unlikely that turkeys, for instance, are big fans of the holiday.
In truth, I have never put a lot of stock in the holiday either, but this is not because I am ungrateful. It is more because the concept is redundant for me. I am thankful every day.
This might be hard to believe, but I even wake up happy on Monday mornings.
I’m not saying my life is perfect. But I will say if they made top shelves just a few inches lower, it would be pretty darn close.
Of course, I am one of the lucky ones. I have all I want and more than I deserve. I have love in my life. I feel valued. I am surrounded by good people and wonderful friends. I have a great dog who sleeps at my feet while I write things like this. I have figured out how to use all our TV remotes. I go hunting or fishing when I want. My hierarchy of needs has been met – and then some.
Unfortunately, there are folks who are not so fortunate. Maybe you know someone who fits that description.
For them, life is tough these days. Young people are struggling to find the standard of living and happiness their parents and grandparents came by so easily. Families are finding it hard to make ends meet no matter how hard they try. People are falling through the cracks of our social networks. Those on the fringes of society are being set aside, and often disparaged, and sometimes victimized.
Shelves are still too high – and, worse still, they are often empty.
The world is as imperfect as it has always been.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t all try just a little harder to move it in a more perfect direction. Though it has been said many times in this newspaper and in slogans wherever you look, kindness and respect does matter.
In fact, I think they are the key.
I am not going to burrow down the complex rabbit holes of politics, climate change, or social, global, racial, and historical injustices. I am a simple, uneducated man – and, I believe, these debates are best suited to those who truly understand the issues.
But even a simple man can feel what is right.
The only thing I know for certain is that everyone needs help at some time, and everyone could use a little more kindness. I know this because I have been the beneficiary of both throughout my life, as I suspect many of you have. So, when you doubt what these simple gifts can do, remember what they did for you.
The beauty of kindness and respect is that it is free to give – and, when given, it elevates everyone involved in the transaction. When you dispense kindness and respect, it somehow comes back to find you again. The same goes for hate, by the way.
I know this message is simple. But kindness and respect are still too rare. And that’s a shame because it is needed more than ever in a world in which we have perfected so many means to communicate and, in doing so, created more loneliness, anxiety, and despair than ever.
It is great and even appropriate to be thankful. But maybe Thanksgiving should also be about leaving everyone something to be thankful for.
The turkeys, of course, notwithstanding.