Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks Seems Unsatisfying

Lately I've seen several video interviews in which atheists are asked to explain what it is that they are thankful for.  The last one I watched was a video made by the Fellowship of Freethought Dallas, which was very well done and included many recognizable faces within the community of atheist activists.

As I watched the video, I began to realize that something bothered me about the whole, "What are you thankful for?" question.  And then it came to me; doesn't being thankful presuppose an entity to be thankful to?  As an atheist, I simply cannot answer that question when it is phrased like that.

Since I am very uncomfortable with any assumption of a higher being to which I should give thanks, I then began to think more about how I could answer this without the acknowledgment of a supernatural being.  I mean, giving thanks this way just feels to me like it's another ambiguously spiritual concept leftover from my moderately religious upbringing.

Unfortunately for me, I had to figure this out relatively quickly.  It is the time of year when this question becomes very popular amongst my family members, including my mother and my grandmother.  So in order to maintain my own sanity and also keep the Thanksgiving holiday pleasant, I had to find a suitable answer.

Thus, I decided today that I will approach this question by changing the direction of the question itself:  I am not thankful, I am fortunate.

I am fortunate to have grown up with the family I did.  We've lived through some rough years, but no matter what, my parents - and especially my brother - were always there for me when I needed them most.  I think a simple show of gratitude takes away from what they've done for me, but it's the best I can offer.  Thanks for everything Mom, Dad and Billy.

I am fortunate that my parents insisted I keep up with my classwork so that I would have the opportunity to be successful in college.  For that, I thank my parents again.

I am fortunate to have met my beloved wife, Monica.  She has given me a strength and resiliance I never thought I had.  I could spend hours thanking her and it still wouldn't be enough.  You're better than I deserve, and I thank you for loving me...

I am fortunate that my family is healthy and we have not had to manage a debilitating illness.  I suppose I should thank my ancestors for the strong set of genes passed to me.

I am fortunate to have the kids that I do.  Both of them never cease to amaze me with their courage, their curiosity, and their individuality.  Like most parents, the two of them have me convinced I have the best kids on the planet.  Thanks, kiddos!

I am very fortunate to have all of you to define what kind of man I have become.  Thank you, all.

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