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WHAT AM I THANKFUL FOR?

WHAT AM I THANKFUL FOR?

When I was born in 1957, nobody recycled. I’m thankful this has changed.

When I was born in 1957, rivers used to routinely catch fire due to being so polluted. I’m thankful this never happens anymore due to the EPA.

When I was born in 1957, American cities suffered from smog. I’m thankful that today American cities enjoy blue skies due to the EPA.

When I was born in 1957, buildings were constructed with little thought to energy efficiency. I’m thankful this has changed.

When I was born in 1957, I Love Lucy was the top-rated TV show, a show depicting women as stupid, incapable of holding a job, and requiring endless rescuing by a man. I’m thankful this has changed.

When I was born in 1957, a woman in the workforce could be sexually assaulted by a male boss and there was no recourse. None. I’m thankful that today women can file sexual harassment suits.

When I was born in 1957, nobody talked about sexual abuse, and of children being sexually abused. I’m thankful this has changed.

When I was born in 1957, a White person could not marry a Black person. I’m grateful that in 1967 the Supreme Court allowed interracial marriage.

When I was born in 1957, homosexuality was considered a psychiatric disorder, and men and women were jailed for their same-sex attraction. I’m thankful for how much has improved for the LGBTQ community, and for marriage equality in 2015. The latter was unthinkable in 1957.

When I was born in 1957, a Black man running for president was unthinkable. I’m thankful that in 2008 a Black man received more votes for president than any White man in history.

When I was born in 1957, a woman running for president was unthinkable. I’m thankful that in 2016 a woman received more votes for president than any White man in history.

When I was born in 1957, a gay man running for president was unthinkable. I’m thankful that in 2019 a gay man is credibly running for president and, in a new Quinnipiac national poll, Pete Buttigieg is in second place, only 8 points behind Joe Biden. Amazing.

When I was born in 1957, cars were profoundly unsafe. I’m thankful for the many many many ways cars are vastly safer.

When I was born in 1957, zoos abused animals. Profoundly so. As a child, I hated going to the zoo because all I could see was the pain in the eyes of the caged bears and gorillas. I’m grateful that this has changed.

When I was born in 1957, almost every TV show and almost every movie had people smoking. Today, it’s startling to see how omnipresent this used to be and I’m thankful it no longer is.

When I was born in 1957, nobody cared about the global environment. And while I’m thankful that many many millions now do care, it terrifies me that many many millions don’t, and nor does one political party in America.

And, while many people think we are living in a scary time, we are not in many ways. Today, the world is safer than it’s ever been in important ways:

Today, vastly fewer people are dying in wars than they were in 1947.

Today, most people work 30-40 hours a week, a huge improvement from the 60-70 hours a week routine in 1879.

Today, the share of people living in poverty has dropped dramatically since 1820.

Today, homicides rates are vastly reduced from what they were in the 13th century, and even vastly reduced from 1990.

Today, more people are living under Democracy than ever, massively so since 1880.

In addition:

Today, women in America have the right to vote. They didn’t for a long time.

Today, America no longer has slaves. It once did.

I’m thankful for all of this. While the daily news is numbing and terrifying, I find it helpful to remind myself of how much better things are today than when I was born. I am, too, optimistic that this trend will continue for, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr., the long arc of human history bends toward beneficence and justice.

A very big hug to all of you!

Ross

14 Responses to WHAT AM I THANKFUL FOR?

  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Ross. I am especially thankful to live in a country where free speech and freedom of the press is a constitutional right. And freedom of religion. It wasn’t too long ago, you had very little rights if you were a Roman Catholic. Now, you can practice or not practice your faith and the government cannot interfere, although sometimes it tries to. You can criticize the president, you can insult congress, you can hold unpopular opinions, and it is possible because here we are truly free. In other countries, that is not possible. Thank God we are in a country where you can become whatever you want to be and there no limit to success. And I am grateful that you Ross, are such an inspiration. Your achievements and can-do attitude inspire me!

  2. Among other things, I am also grateful for the inspiring homeowner in Emporia, KS that is restoring the Cross House as well as enthralling his readers with his experiences, wit, wisdom and willingness to share his restoration journey. Thanks Ross, Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. In the fifties, we may not have called it recycling, but at least some of us did re-using and up-cycling. I particularly remember my grandfather getting bicycles for us at the dump and fixing them up. Also clothes being passed around.

  4. Thank you for the reminder to be grateful! What a fantastic way to remember how far we have come, and to inspire current and future generations to keep on doing so.

  5. Ross this is beautifully said. It’s easy to get so down about the state of our country right now. How refreshing to read this. We really do have a lot to be thankful for. Hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Hi Ross. What a well written essay. I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving. Here in the desert it’s a 3 day public holiday for which I’m extremely thankful, hhh. Here’s wishing you a great week ahead. Colin

  7. Belated Happy Thanksgiving Ross. I was away from the blog for a bit and I am happy to be back, reading your calming and always encouraging musings.

    This is a writing on thanks is a wonderful gift. Thank you dear Ross. I wish you a happy, fun, healthy and loving holiday season.

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