Another year has passed and it is time again to take stock and give thanks.
Given recent events, it seems obvious that those of us who live in relative peace and safety have much to be thankful for and we have been reminded of that in the cruelest of ways. While we give thanks for our family and friends, for a roof over our heads and food on our table, we are also saddened by the knowledge that many do not have these basic needs met reliably. It can be challenging to be not just thankful but optimistic when not everyone shares the same bounty and blessings.
But this is also a good time to remember that humans are remarkably resilient and determined. Human life has always been precarious, and yet, we continue to strive for better, as individuals, communities, and a world. We continue to work to overcome each challenge, to eliminate danger, to fight evil and wrongdoings where they occur, and to work to ensure that all are fed and clothed and free to live in safety and peace. And it’s critical to remember that we do make progress.
Compared to 100, 500, or 1,000 years or more ago, things have improved – often wildly. Life expectancy, freedom, democracy, access to education, general health and welfare – all are significantly improved. Of course we can see that things are better in numerous ways compared to many years ago. Technological advances like indoor plumbing, electricity, and medical improvements obviously make most of our lives significantly better than those of the Pilgrims for example. But even comparisons of now vs. 50 or even 25 years ago are favorable in many ways. To be sure, better doesn’t mean perfect or even good enough. But there are proportionately fewer people in such circumstances and that is a reason to be thankful and hopeful.
Better is only achieved by all of us working towards it. It is achieved by individuals, communities, and nations alike striving to improve things – big and small. It is improved through technological advances and difference in human behavior. It comes about because of changes in how we value human life, our commitment to human rights, and an increased respect for each individual regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality or sexuality. For centuries people have faced the problems of the world and won many of the battles. Take inspiration from those who came before us and met these challenges bravely to help create the better place we live today.
As you travel to see or welcome into your home your friends and family, be thankful. Be thankful for our forefathers and mothers – those who lived and helped create the better world we live in today. Be thankful for all the obvious reasons and all the blessings of your life. Be thankful that as sentient beings with free will and determination, we have the power to change things; to continue to improve ourselves and our world.
Be thankful and commit yourself to improving what you can, in small ways and big. Reach out and help however you can: support a local charitable organization or a neighbor; support the men and women in the armed forces, and police, fire and medical personnel worldwide who provide safety and security and respond when those are threatened; vote; appreciate and preserve nature; be kind. Don’t underestimate how little it can take to affect change and how much each of us can contribute in our own way to a better world for everyone. Be thankful and hopeful that next year, more of us will be thankful, all over the world.
This year, as always, I am thankful for my wife, daughter and extended family. I am thankful that my parents had the determination to work hard to always provide for my sister and me, including having the courage to move our family to the United States from Poland in search of freedom from post war totalitarianism. I’m thankful for my friends, colleagues, and clients, and the continued opportunity to run a successful business that allows me to help provide a better life for others. I’m thankful for the changes and improvements in the world that I have been privileged to see and be a small part of in my lifetime. I am thankful that I have the ability to help improve the world, to continue the work that those before me started and build on their achievements. All in all, plenty to be thankful and optimistic about.
Enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
President and CEO