Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and in following tradition, I like to think about what makes me thankful. In doing so, I take time for reflection not only with regards to my life, but the very reason that I am celebrating this great American holiday. When you think about it, the most commercially popular holidays of Halloween, Christmas and Easter may be given a unique spin in America, but they are not American holidays. There is something special about Thanksgiving and 4th of July (sorry for the afterthought, Labor and Memorial Day) because they are American originals.
Personally, I am thankful to be alive and thankful to live the majority of my life in the 21st century. Not to say I don’t have my reservations about what America has become in terms of the economy, infatuation with consumer goods and a standard American greed, but it is inarguable that it is a great time to be alive in America. We have access to worldwide communication at our fingertips, we can fly through the air in planes, and if we need something we can just buy it – and do so with money we don’t even have! When we are done using things, we just give them away, or throw them away, and then buy them all over again. Some of us even let our stuff accumulate to the point where it becomes useless and a roll off dumpster is needed for removal. It is probably impossible for Americans today to even imagine what it would have been like to live in a time during which it took months or years to communicate with anyone, when travel was always slow and only by land or sea, and natural resources were so vitally important that there was literally no trash.
I am thankful to the founders of this great country, and the hardships they endured to form America. Those founders and the Native Americans already occupying this land lived through dramatically different times. They were times during which currency was a trading and barter system, there were no consumer processed goods, and all resources were natural and precious so nothing was wasted. It was a time to which environmental activists would love to be transplanted as the thought of throwing out our trash and renting dumpsters was not in the realm of possibility. Reduce, reuse, recycle was not just a popular politically correct trend, it was literally a way of life because most natural resources (wood, animal parts, clothing) provided multiple uses, and could even be burned for warmth when its usefulness ran out. In those times, trash cans and dumpster rentals didn’t even exist and our natural resources provided every need an comfort imaginable.
Ultimately, the innovations and changes that our world has seen have made it a better place to live, but it is important to reflect on how things used to be to truly appreciate the present.