Is there reason to give thanks?

Structurally, socially and globally speaking, it is perhaps more difficult for us today to find reasons to be thankful, reasons that, at the same time, are reasons to continue living and waiting.

November 21, 2023-Reading time: 4 minutes

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This coming Thursday, November 23rd, we will celebrate the most important holiday in the United States; Thanksgiving Day. It is, as its name indicates, the day to give thanks, to give thanks, to remember and recognize reasons that motivate and justify the celebration of personal, family, social and national "thanksgiving".

Like so many other dates and celebrations in life, the materialistic, mercantilist and consumerist society has emptied of meaning and content the important dates for our society and for the world. Everything seems to be reduced to the commercial game of supply and demand. We celebrate without knowing what we are celebrating. In this case, we celebrate without discovering the reasons to be thankful or, if we know them, we do not give thanks.

Giving thanks

Gratitude is an essential dimension in the life of the human being. Gratitude is born from the possibility of discovering gratuity in life. Gratitude is born from the possibility of discovering gifts and presents that we all receive and have in life and that cannot be bought or sold. The discovery of what is free makes gratitude possible and gratitude makes joy and a happy existence possible for everyone.

Only the grateful person is happy. And he is grateful who discovers gifts in daily existence, reasons to give thanks. And there are many reasons to give thanks. Some because they make us happy, please us, do us good, and others because they teach us solidarity, tolerance, acceptance, understanding, forgiveness, etc., in the art of living.

This holiday, which is a national date and celebration, asks us to go out of our small interests, our small individual joys to be able to feel part of society, of the nation and of the entire human community. In this way, we will be able to ask ourselves about the reasons we have to be thankful, not only as human beings but as citizens of this nation and of the world.

The world today

While it is true that individually and as a family we will always find reasons to give thanks, structurally, socially and globally speaking, it is perhaps more difficult for us today to find reasons to give thanks, reasons that, at the same time, are reasons to continue living and waiting...

At this historical and social, political and economic juncture, at the national and global level, I ask myself, for example, if we can give thanks in the face of terrorism, in the face of wars (especially those of Russia-Ukraine and Ukraine), and in the face of the wars that have been waged against us. IsraelPalestine), to the thirst for revenge, to injustice and violence, to human cruelty and to so many forms of death.

Because to give thanks while ignoring the seriousness of the present historical situation in which we are all immersed worldwide, and which impacts us all in many ways, would be to err on the side of superficiality and frivolity.

Is it valid to give thanks today?

I wonder if a thanksgiving celebration is valid in the midst of crowds of brothers and sisters who live in conditions that are undignified and inhumane.

I wonder what truth, value and meaning is there in giving thanks in a nation and in a world that suffers from divisions, inequalities, intolerance and discrimination of all kinds?

Is it possible to give thanks in the face of the suffering of so many who have to leave their homes, their lands, their families, their homelands and submit to the inclemency of migrations in which everything is risked and almost always everything is lost, even life itself?

Is it possible to give thanks in societies with millions of men and women who live in abandonment and loneliness?

Is it valid to give thanks in a world in which public service, in political and government positions, has become an opportunity for illicit enrichment, corruption and contempt for the wellness common?

I ask myself: what sense does it make to give thanks in a world with privileged minorities living in comfort and waste, while millions of fellow human beings are sentenced to death before they are born, condemned to poverty and hunger, innocents condemned to an undignified life for lack of social opportunities? What sense does it make to give thanks in a world where millions of fallen suffer our indifference and lack of compassion? 

What is the meaning of our thanksgiving celebration in the midst of crowds of young people searching, disoriented, for their place in society and in the world, with broken families and lives lost for lack of values, in the midst of vices and vanities?

The meaning of thanksgiving

There are many more faces of concrete men and women who suffer and cry out for a chance on earth. There are many more anguish and painful situations that arise from the lack of respect for the dignity of the human being. 

All these faces, situations and questions should awaken our sleepy, comfortable and indifferent conscience, so that we ask ourselves about the meaning of our national celebration of thanksgiving. 

But, above all, to motivate us, with the commitment and effort of all, to build families, personal and family histories, interpersonal and social relationships, institutions and structures that fill us with hope for a better world than this one in which it was our lot to live. 

The current national and global moment calls - as rarely in history - for the awakened conscience and active solidarity of all men and women on earth. 

It is urgent that, among all of us, we build a nation and a world with reasons to give thanks, to be happy, to live with hope. It is urgent that we build a nation in which, one day a year and every day of the year, we live full of reasons to be thankful, to believe, to love, to be happy, to continue hoping...

The authorMario Paredes

Executive Director of SOMOS Community Care

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