My 62nd Thanksgiving Day. My 22,349th day on this minor planet in a minor solar system in a minor galaxy in what may be one of many universes.* And I have so much to be thankful for.
I’m blessed because I’m alive and healthy (mostly). I have a wonderful daughter and a fine son-in-law to be. I’m in love, and I have a very nice relationship with my former spouse, too. And I’ve got a sidekick—Max Atticus Finch—who baffles me mostly. (I could share details, but I’d sound like what I’ve become: an old man who talks about his dog too much.) Plenty of dandy relatives and friends round out my personal good fortune.
Challenges? Absolutely. While lawyering offers me a chance to help people and make a living, taking on Other People’s Problems for more than 37 years … well, it has its downside. Concomitantly, I’ve earned an F when it comes to saving for retirement. So, if you’ve got a problem, I’m available. Really! Call, please!!! (LOL … mostly.)
When I wrote the last paragraph, I expected to have a list of challenges. I don’t, though, for having to work in my early 60s is my only problem in life. Truly!
So, what else am I thankful for? My luck! Lucky that I was born in America, with an above average intellect and an OK temperament.
I got lucky with my parents, too. They wanted better lives for themselves, and a better life for me than the lives they strived for. In addition, they saw education as life’s game changer, even though neither one of them had a college degree.
Lucky that I’m male, too. I adore women but for material success America values men. Still, and certainly in my formative years. I’m also blessed to have height—albeit not as many inches as I once did—and the ability to control my weight. Being not butt ugly? Doesn’t hurt. We value appearance highly in these United States, even though most people have no control over what they look like.
In all, I think Born in America matters most. The best parents, in El Salvador, can do almost nothing to help their children succeed. Valuing education in Honduras won’t matter much. For sure, the gap between men and women is greater in Saudi Arabia than it is here, but if you’re a Saudi guy and you mouth off, your last memory might be the sound of a chainsaw.
We have much to be thankful for, every day. So many do so much to help others. That giving spirit, noted by French observer of America Alexis de Toqueville, sits at the core of the American way. Whether we think about money or time, Americans show up for others, in a way unknown in the world before the 19th century.
Not all is well for everyone, of course. Those who struggle here have it pretty good, compared to many around the world, but we must not forget or Other-ize them.
We must, as well, recall the plight of our forebears, who showed up on our shores because America offered hope, and home offered none. Sadly, in the very week we devote to saying thanks and focus on a particular group who arrived 398 years ago, we’re Other-izing people just like those who came before us—people looking for a better, safer life—and doing it in as ugly and awful a way as we can.
Yes, we need borders, and we can’t help everyone. But we can have a heart and stop thinking and talking about refugees as if they’re beneath contempt. They’re just regular people, who want a better, safer life.
Done. Thanks, as always, for reading my words. You just read Essay No. 751 at Mark Rubin Writes, and the fact that even one person pays attention to my thoughts thrills me beyond measure. Enjoy the day, the weekend, and the holiday season.
*I finished Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson the other day. Dr. Tyson reminds us that we exist, but that if we look at the big picture, we’re less significant than dust in the wind.