Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What I'm Thankful For: Part 1 - Society and the World

It's Thanksgiving time, so I think it's appropriate to make a series of a blog posts dedicated to giving thanks. I've decided to make multiple posts, because a single post just wouldn't be enough. I'm going to organize my list of things I'm thankful for into degrees of proximity: The first post will include things I'm thankful for in our society and the world, the second post will include things close to me such as family and friends, and the final post will include things about myself.

Things I am Thankful for in Society and the World
  • Earth. Of the estimated billion-billion stars, there is only one that we know about that has a planet that can support life. To say that Earth is special is a huge understatement. Whoever made this planet really knew what He was doing.
  • Life. If you've studied biology, biochemistry, or genetics then you know that the complexity of life is mind-boggling...and I think science is still only just scratching the surface of that complexity. Can you imagine if life didn't exist? The entire universe would be so uninteresting and lacking in purpose.
  • Civilization. Relatively speaking, civilization has only existed for a short time, and still doesn't exist in some places. Thomas Hobbes described life before civilization as "nasty, brutish, and short." Human nature is to group into warring tribes. It took eons for a culture to develop where people trusted those outside their extended family.
  • Modern Society. When we think about "modern" we normally thing about advances in medicine or technology. But, the term modern society refers to much more important advances, specifically the acceptance of reason and of human rights. These are things we mostly take for granted today, but they are luxuries that very few people in history have enjoyed. If you aren't a slave, own property, can vote, don't belong to a caste and are allowed to go to school then you are one of an elite few.
  • Peace. The importance of this can't be stressed enough. To me, war is something you learn about in History or hear about on TV. But, it's real, it's common, and it's horrible. Luckily, it's almost completely foreign to me.
  • Freedom. I often focus too much on our lack of freedom. But, I acknowledge that when it comes to amount of freedom, we've got about as much as anyone has ever had. That fact that we know our freedoms are secure is, in part, what enables us to do so much of what we do. People are much less likely to take a new job, buy a house, or start a business if they don't feel secure.
  • Wealth. Despite all the recent talk about high unemployment, we still live in the wealthiest society in the history of the world. The fact that we have unemployment is actually a sign of our extreme wealth. Centuries ago there wasn't any unemployment because there wasn't any employment. You spent every day of your life gathering or growing food, and if things went bad you starved to death. We are so accustomed to wealth, that if society's wealth doesn't grow fast enough we call it a recession. The average American adult has an hour a day more free time than just a generation ago...and we have so many more cool things to do with that free time.
Well, these are some pretty generic, impersonal things to be thankful for. But, they are still some pretty good things. I promise my next posts will be much more personal.


Beverly said...

I am thankful for these things as well. I'm looking forward to your next post.

Kenna Z. said...
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Rita said...

Loved this post and I love that you truly are thankful for these things. They are usually in the back of my mind usually but because I get to spend much of my free time ;) with a deep thinker, I acknowledge them on my gratitude list also. Love you.

(BTW, I accidentally posted this as Kenna so that accounts for the deleted comment. Teehee.)

Beverly and Scott said...
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Scott said...

Pretty profound. A list of things that we take for granted but are rich blessings available to a small few in the history of the world.

[I originally posted using the wrong username, hence the second deleted comment.)