Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving

Only in America, the land that flows with milk and honey, would we have a day such as today.

I searched around on the net, and found some interesting statistics. According to a fascinating site I found, three-quarters of households considered "poor" in America own a car. 97% of poor households in this country have a color television. Forty-three percent of poor Americans actually own their own home.

Walk down any street in any crowded city here in the US: how many naked, starving children do you see? In fact, how often do you find a starving adult? And what of the homeless? Most cities have shelters where even the most destitute among us can eat a warm meal, bathe and sleep in a warm bed (or at least on a cot).

Contrast that with any of a number of third-world nations. The summer before I began college, I spent some time on a missions trip to the Ivory Coast. I recall walking down unpaved streets in one of the major cities, watching as parents sent their naked, malnourished children up to the "white Americans" to beg for food or money. I remember one guy who was traveling with us felt particularly sorry for a young lady, and gave her $30. She collapsed the ground crying. We moved on. Later that evening, when we arrived back at the home where we were staying, that young lady was waiting out front. Confused, we asked the guide what was going on. He conversed for a few moments with the young lady, then came back to us, furious.

"What did you do?" he asked, angrily. "She will not leave now because you have bought her. You cannot give these people that much money. She believes she is to be your wife now," he told my traveling companion, who'd thought he was merely blessing a poor soul. "You must go explain to her that you do not want her," he went on. "Otherwise, you will never be rid of her. Because you gave her so much, she now belongs to you."

As I recall, the average annual wage of the citizens of that poor country was somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 American. A small apartment (considered condemnable, by our standards) would rent out for around $1200 per month in that same country. Thus, many of the residents of the city we stayed in lived in cardboard boxes or makeshift wood huts. They died of maladies that, to us, seem everyday or commonplace, easily curable, but to them, are deadly for lack of money to pay for decent health care. Their children steal to eat, or worse, sell themselves to feed their families. And when you show a bit of kindness to them, out of pity, they offer themselves-their entire life-to you in return, for a simple act of mercy.

But we, who are so blessed, so incredibly fortunate-we set aside a day, a "special" day, a day for "thanksgiving." The rest of the year, I guess, we worry and fret and complain, griping about "gender inequity" and "the glass ceiling" and struggling "paycheck to paycheck" and rising fuel costs. We live our lives frustrated and unhappy because we just don't have it as good as we feel we should.

But, oh: on that one day, we sure are thankful. So thankful, in fact, that we take a day off work, and overindulge in good food, deserts, football on television, and sleep.

Oh, and just before we eat, we take thirty seconds to thank God for His blessings.

I'm not discouraging Thanksgiving; on the contrary, it's admirable that somebody, somewhere saw fit to take time out to truly give thanks for our blessings. But I AM encouraging making it a real day of Thanksgiving; or, rather, making it a lifestyle.

Remember that even the least among us lives far above the vast majority in the world.

God, never let me forget, and help me to LIVE a LIFE of thanksgiving.

Have a fantastic holiday, and remember the reason for the day.

2 comments:

Shane said...

PJ, great post... It is so amazing how quickly we forget how blessed we really are. Many of us will NEVER really know how good we have it unless we witness first hand what you seen in your time spent in Africa.

One thought I would like to add… I think that if you measure “Blessings” with monetary examples, you will more often then not, “live your life frustrated and unhappy, because you do not have it as good as you feel you should.” BUT if you realize the value of what is yours that cannot be “bought” – God, your wife, your two kids – I believe you will live your life with an “I’m blessed” way of thinking.

Thanks for the reminder! I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving.

Expes Puella said...

Lookie!

http://expespuella.blogspot.com/2009/08/siste-viator.html