Friday, November 28, 2008

Gratitude and Thanksgiving

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.


just-commenting said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. We all need to reflect on how fortunate we are. I am only 2 generations removed from abject poverty and illiteracy, and the opportunities of this country and the encouragement from my parents have made it possible for me to have had an extensive education and a wonderful career as a physician.

My mother came here from the Netherlands on borrowed money, alone as a young adult with very little education, and speaking no English 80 years ago. My father's parents came from the UK, and his dad died young, so my father never finished high school, but built a very successful business.

I live comfortably and securely as the beneficiary of the sacrifices of many others, and I think that everyone has much to be thankful for.

I have visited the home where my mother lived, as well as those of my grandparents, and I can see why they always felt that the USA was truly the land of opportunity.

Thanks again for the reminder to consider what we have.

Anonymous said...

"Third, I appreciate my country, for rejecting the fear and supernaturalism of the Republican message espoused be John McCain."
Fear and supernaturalism? What on earth are you referring to? As for fear, please tell that to the people of Mumbai. Supernaturalism... it takes a greater leap of faith to believe Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank et al. can make better decisions for the economy rather than millions of individual actors deciding on their own behalf, than it does to believe that there is a Creator.

"I also am grateful for the rational, evidence/competence based paradigm our future President espouses."
Evidence based paradigm? Oh puhhleease.
Exhibit A: The evidence is that direct payment to corn farmers to produce more and cheaper corn than the market would otherwise produce results in far too much and far too cheap corn at the expense of other crops, giving us high-fructose corn syrup, obesity, diabetes, not to mention wasted land and water resources. But our President-elect is for it and certainly this is no accident since he wanted to get elected in Illinois and win the caucus in Iowa and some crucial states such as Indiana and Ohio. Evidence-based? I think not. Call it pandering to the voter-based.

"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."
Wrong. It may be heresy in YOUR former religion and YOUR experience, but not in my religion and my experience. Be very careful when you start assuming other religions are like Mormonism.

"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."
I will assume you are not referring to me.

Obi wan liberali said...

Kneedeep. You assumed wrong. Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to hearing from you in what way specifically I am wrong. Are corn subsidies good? Are the people of Mumbai really alive? Are all religions just like Mormonism? Please please tell me how I am wrong. Try to answer the question without using the word "Bush".

Obi wan liberali said...

Come now Kneedeep. I said I appreciate you (sniff). Do you need a hug?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the offer. I will get my hugs from my wife and my daughter. I'm the liberal in the family. My wife makes me sound like Alan Alda.

Urban Koda said...

If I may add my thanks, alongside Just-Commenting's, and even some of KneeDeep's (I'm assuming since he only disagreed with a couple of them, that he agreed with and was grateful for the others!)

This year was a special one for me. It was my first Thanksgiving as a citizen of this great country. I may disagree with the government at times, and to be honest I have been struggling of late, living amongst the Saints in Utah, even though I am technically one of them.

All that is overshadowed by the great opportunities afforded me here and the blessings of being able to raise my family in comfort and in accordance with my own beliefs.

I thought about it last Thursday, and appreciate the chance to think about it again today.

Anonymous said...

Ok, well yes there is a lot we can agree on and be Thankful for.

I am in the midst of starting a business, so I can't be thankful for being employed. But I can be thankful to live in a place where one doesn't have to do what some kommisar says or what my father does, but where we have the freedom to pursue our own dreams.

Yes of course I am grateful for my family. My wife earned her PhD this year and is in a tenure track position at a Utah university. I merely have a masters. I am thankful that our 2 year old daughter is bright, curious and is pretty accommodating on 14 hour car trips.

I am grateful for out coutry for different reasons than Obi stated. Not having received an answer to my fear and supernaturalism question, I am grateful for a country that behaves civilly. We can change governments without tanks in the streets or the military intimdating voters, as is done in many places I have visited. I mean this is in a very serious way. I spent Thanksgiving with a large extended family and few, if any, of them voted for Obama. Nevertheless, all of them wished for the best and had chosen to be hopeful and see what changes this will bring. Notably, none of them made any banal comments which have become common from the left such as "if my candidate doesn't win them I'm moving to New Zealand". Which my responce is "can I give you a ride to the airport?"

Of course I am grateful for those who serve and have served in the military. Special thanks goes to those who did not come back, or did come back harmed. Fortunately my brother has served in the military for 20 years now, including Gulf War I and Iraq and has come home from both in one piece.

I suppose in hindsight I am grateful for being raised in a faith which is other than Mormonism. I was raised by parents and pastors who encoured us to question and to challenge. I am sorry Obi has not been exposed to faiths such as mine.

I am also grateful for what is left of my mind. My mother is currently in the early stages of Alzheimers, and her father died of the same. I hope I don't draw that gene card, but I suppose my chances are 50/50. Either way, I am grateful for the time that I have had with both my mother and grandfather before that disease took hold.

And I am glad so far that Obi has yet to point out anything that I have said to be wrong.

Obi wan liberali said...

Kneedeep, you've got a Vice President candidate who believes that humans existed with dinosaurs (not the avian ones we now called birds). What do you believe? Do you really believe in a 6,000 year old earth? On what basis do you believe it?

Do you believe in a worldwide flood as mentioned in the biblical story of Noah? How can this possibly correlate to native american cultures roaming our continent over 10,000 years ago?

You seem really intent on criticizing my views, but I have really struggled to understand yours.

For the love of a non-existent God, please start your own blog where you can state your opinions and subject them to my views. Your responses to my opinions talk about anecdotal outliers, not concrete criticisms. I appreciate that you disagree with what I have stated. But let me know what you believe and why.

I don't mind criticism. But when I face criticism, I usually ask my many direct reports, "what do you recommend." I welcome your recommendations, not your criticisms.

We might actually find some common ground. I would actually welcome that. But I suspect that your manichean mindset is more intent on trying to discredit my ideas than to espouse your own.

Prove me wrong. Start a blog and proudly state your positions and justify those positions. I welcome such an outcome.

Best regards my faithful shadow.

Anonymous said...

I now understand your top picture. It is Little Round Top. I was there many years back. I doubt any of my ancestors were actually there. I do know of other engagements they were in...wearing the grey...Tennessee Cavalry mostly.