24 November 2011

Giving thanks, the humanist way

As an atheist, I don't have a god to thank for the "blessings" in my life.  There are many things I'm fortunate to have in my life: living in a region with abundant natural resources, dwelling in a relatively safe area without the daily threat of violent crime, and having good general health that's at least partly due to my genes, to name a few.  Absent belief in any higher being that chose these circumstances for me, I have to chalk them up to a mere accident of circumstance.

What I can be thankful for are the actions of other people that have had a positive impact in my life.  Some have done great gestures of generosity; others, small acts of kindness.  Some have done nice things for me intentionally; others have indirectly helped me while helping themselves.  Some have given material aid; others have given kind words, or a smile, or even a challenge for me to meet.

I give my thanks to every person whose actions have helped me get to where I am today: the family that raised and provided for me, the friends who were there for me throughout school, the teachers who challenged me to learn and think critically, the co-workers who brave the proverbial trenches by my side.  I give my thanks to my wife, who has helped me learn as much about myself as I have about her.  I give my thanks to the strangers who invented the tools I use to express myself, the generations of our civilization who have preserved free speech, and the soldiers who stand ready to protect this society.

Last month, my fellow HCCO member Derrick posted this Dial-A-Humanist message on the HCCO blog, discussing the benefits of adopting an "attitude of gratitude" (cheesy slogan, yes, but accurate).  It's something I thought about this evening as I sated myself with slow-cooked turkey breast, stuffing, yams, and pumpkin cheesecake.

We humans have one another thank for every good thing we have in our lives.  We're the ones who keep one another safe from danger.  We're the ones who work to secure food and resources for one another, and carve niches for one another in the economy.  We're the ones who challenge one another to succeed and help one another in times of need.  We're the ones whose kind words and companionship keeps one another happy.

Happy Thanksgiving, my fellow humans.

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