Being ungrateful to those who have benefitted you is to me one of the greatest inujustices you can engage in as an individual. As an atheist, I don't atrtibute bad things, nor good things to this supernatural hand. But I do recognize that my life has been positively benefitted by many individuals. Gratitude for those individuals should not be a once a year thing, but since it is Thanksgiving (or atleast it was a half hour ago), I feel I should say something about those who have benefitted me during the year.
First of all, I am grateful to be employed. In our current economic environment, being unemployed does not sound like a place I want to be. I'm glad that my employers have looked at my job performance and found me worthy of further service and compensation.
Second, I deeply appreciate my family. I have three wonderful daughters and a wife who is educated and informed. Both my wife and myself have masters degrees and I am grateful for the standard it sets for my daughters. I value education and I wish my daughters to also value it.
Third, I appreciate my country, for rejecting the fear and supernaturalism of the Republican message espoused be John McCain. I also am grateful for the rational, evidence/competence based paradigm our future President espouses.
Fourth, I appreciate those who serve in our military, who have been put in a very difficult situation, fighting a war in mesopotamia that we never should have fought.
Fifth, I appreciate all those who have defended our country in the past. From my ancestor Samuel Boynton who fought the British at Lexington and Concord, to the 2nd Maine at Little Round Top, to the Marines who stormed Fallujah in the second battle for the city, I honor those who have fought and died for our country and express gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
Sixth, I also express gratitude for the many religiously devout members of my old ward who invested their time and energy to make me a better person. Though I have rejected their faith-based beliefs, I have never disavowed the scope of their positive influence upon my life.
Seventh, I express gratitude for the freedom I have to express my opinions, whether they are popular or not. And I appreciate all those who have challenged what I have written for it has made me think better. One of the great diffences between the religious paradigm and the scientific one, is that challenging the status quo in one realm is heresy, while in the other realm, it is an essential part of the dynamic.
Eighth, I appreciate the fact that I am so spoiled with physical comforts and time to think, that I am granted the ability to pontificate upon the ideas that I hold dear.
Ninth, I appreciate that I still have a mind to engage in worthwhile dialogue. My mother died far too early from the effects of alzheimers. It yet still may get me, depending on how the genes and environment things work out. But given her fate, I value every year where I am capable of meaningful dialogue.
Tenth- I value everything I've learned that makes my life interesting and meaningful. Whether it is geologic information that makes rock formations come to life, or biological insights that unite me as a member of a great and diverse family of animals, plants, microbes and other organisms, I appreciate all I've been able to learn and how it has given me perspective.
And to those who occasionally read my blog, I am thankful for you. Your insights and wisdom have been invaluable, even when you have been wrong.