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On giving thanks for our advantages

Reflections this Thanksgiving

It is the season of Thanksgiving. A time to reflect and give thanks for the advantages we have. I was born in 1937. I am glad that I was not born in 1837 or 1737. I also had the luck of being born into this country: Canada. I would never wish to chance through a lottery with 193 balls each inscribed with a name of one of the world’s countries, for the hope of living in a better place. It was luck that gave me Canada, so thanks for that luck.

So when we give thanks we should do so for the broad values that impact our lives.

Over the span of human existence there have been so many advances that we just can’t appreciate everything. We live with so many advantages that it is impossible to thank them all.

A lot of our advancements ought to be taken for granted as we already do. That is just how much we have changed from our early human condition.

One great example of an advantage that we don’t humble over is our use of glass. For most of a million years the use of glass did not exist. Today it is difficult to imagine life without it. Glass is everywhere and it is so very important. If you wear glasses take them off and note how degraded life just became.

The automobile is a different item because of glass. Imagine not having a windshield. Glass is required for the rear-view mirrors, headlights, taillights, back-up cameras, and the side windows.

Without glass our home would be a manufactured cave. The lack of natural light would cause most of us to seek a white coat specialist. Someone might suggest that we substitute full spectrum lighting. That also requires glass.

From mirrors to the ‘clink’ from a toast; from the show room window to the glass walls of skyscrapers glass is an everyday product. We just expect it to be there.

Our lives are full of items like glass. Things we don’t – and should not – dwell upon. Advantages are there and we move on accepting the growth in human advancement. We need not be overly humbled nor burdened through non-ending thanks.

A few other advantages – and only a few – are, Velcro, take out food, pocket calculators, post-it notes, garage door openers, alarm clocks, showers, pharmaceutical medicine, mouse traps and about twenty trillion other items.

The motivation for this article flowed from a lunch I was having in Calgary. I was in a tiny horseshoe shaped booth that was adjoined by a larger booth hosting six people. I could hear their mumbled speech but did not follow their conversation. The exception was one voice that cut the air frequently and scraped my eardrums with the screeching words, “People just don’t appreciate _____________.” That person had a voice like a chimpanzee with its hair on fire and continuously interjected every few minutes for a half an hour: “People just don’t appreciate (then something was named).” It was a tad irritating.

After lunch I got in my car and looked through the windshield and thought of glass. How everyday is that?

We are in a good time in human history and there is no end to our advantages. Perspective and balance requires that we spend Thanksgiving reflecting on the broad values that shape our lives. Such wonders as family, freedom, privilege of democracy, freedom to travel, to associate with others at will, and to live in a community of caring others. Most of all, we can be thankful that we have the opportunity to have some part in making our world better. It feels good bring able build a better place. May we all – except the turkey – be grateful.

Arnold Malone served as MP for Alberta’s Battle River and Crowfoot ridings from 1974 through 1993. He retired to Invermere in 2007.

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