I am all for giving thanks.
For food enough.
For a home.
For so much more.
But I am aware that is the easy part.
The first step.
My heart tells me that a life of gratitude is about more than that.
More than about things.
More than about what I have.
I am still learning about what it means to live a life of gratitude.
In all the moments I have.
With all of the headlines in the news, here is what I have been thinking about.
Those with the least power…
Those whose life energy goes towards the needs of today.
Those whose world is the street on which they live.
Those who are ordinary, and maybe not even that.
Inevitably pay the greatest price.
They are the unnamed collateral damage behind the headlines I read in the news.
Maybe that is just the way it is.
The way it has always been.
But I wonder…
From my position of privilege…
A secure place to live.
The ability to turn away.
Is a portion of the price they pay
A couple days ago I read this blog post by Seth Godin.
I don’t remember when or why I first subscribed to his blog, but with some regularity his reflections offer an insight and/or put words to a partially formed thought hiding in the back of my mind. This one was no different.
The headlines in today’s news, however we get it…
Capitalize on the sensational.
Tempting us to believe the world they describe is the way the world really is.
Then came Father’s Day.
And my social media feed was filled with pictures and reflections and gratitude for the world’s best father.
But each post had a different picture.
And each father had a different name.
And each father lived in a different place.
And each father had a different son or daughter.
Yet, each was the world’s greatest father.
How could that be?
After all, there can only be one greatest, right?
I smiled as I scrolled through the posts.
I realized this is what the world really looks like.
Everyday people doing their best.
Doing their part.
Hugs as family goes off to school and work.
Going for walks.
A kiss goodnight.
All creating greatness one moment at a time.
A million more people doing these everyday things than the outlier of the last sensationalized headline you read.
Another mass shooting.
Or, at least, I…
Can barely keep up.
If we were really praying
Really sending our thoughts and prayers
We would be down on our knees
Nearly every minute of every day.
But we are not.
We send our thoughts and prayers
To the victims and their families.
To their friends and their classmates.
We send our thoughts and prayers to the first responders
And to the doctors and nurses who wait, already tired, in the emergency rooms.
Sometimes we may even remember to pray for each other.
For who knows where it will happen tomorrow.
But there is one prayer we dare not pray.
And that is this.
God, help us find a way to make these killings stop.
Because if we prayed that prayer it would mean that there is some way.
And, because God only works through the likes of you and me
We might be the ones who, alongside God, would have to work to make it stop.
Dear Mr. Holt,
When I watch the evening news, it is the NBC Nightly News on which you serve as the anchor.
I appreciate the image you project, which I assume to be genuine, of caring about the news on which you and your crew are reporting. I also appreciate how you end the broadcast each evening saying “Take care of yourself and each other.” Given the current state of our politics and our nation that is something we all need to be reminded of.
I am writing today in the shadow of yet another school shooting.
Another mass murder.
Seven more, counting the shooter, needless deaths.
So far this year, in 87 days, there have been 129 mass shootings.
And more than 9800 people killed by gun violence.
Firearm related deaths are the leading cause of death among children and youth.
Statistics which you already know.
Tragedy which you and your newsroom knows each day.
I fear Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN) is correct when he said when asked about the shooting in Nashville, “We’re not going to fix it.”
He is not.
Congress is not.
But, I wonder if you can.
If not “fix it,” at least to help move the pendulum a bit.
Here is what I mean.
I was a teenager in the late 1960’s at the height of the Vietnam War.
My family was fairly traditional.
My parents, particularly my Dad, fairly conservative.
Each evening we watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.
What I remember from that time is, at the end of each broadcast, he would tell us how many US soldiers had died that day in Vietnam and how many had been killed in the entire war.
We heard those numbers.
And, over time it made a difference.
At least in my household.
More questions were asked about the war.
More healthy skepticism expressed when listening to political talking points.
I wonder if you could do something similar.
I don’t want you to take away your tagline because we still need to hear it, but could you find a way to add how many people had been killed that day by guns and how many have died so far this year.
If you did that
We would be reminded.
And, maybe changed.
And, maybe little by little find a way
Find the courage
To make a change.
Thank you for listening.
It may be that it is almost the middle of February and the length of winter in Vermont is beginning to push in on me. Maybe it is that, even though the sun is shining today, over the last four months or so there have been more gray days than sunny days. Maybe it is because it is still dark when I get up in the morning and the shades are pulled and the lights are turned on well before we sit down for dinner.
But maybe it is something more.
Maybe it is because at the age I am, this sense of sadness is just a part of life as it is.
Sadness over the loss of friends and loved ones who laughed with me and grew up with me and walked alongside me. Sadness over the all to regular news of cancer or stroke or illness of friends and loved ones who are my age. Sadness as I grapple to come to terms with the reality that life is finite. That my life is finite.
This is not about regrets.
Or a lack of gratitude.
Or some sense of anger or resentment.
This sadness is something different.
Something I have not felt in this way before.
As I live with it and, today try to put words around it
I wonder if maybe sadness is a cousin to gratitude.
I will have to sit with that thought for a while.
In the meantime
I will put on my shoes and walk through town with my dog.
And a bit later, I will meet a friend and we will spend a couple hours skiing together.
And later still, I will sit down to dinner with my wife and before we eat we will reach our hands across the dining room table and say Thank you.
Thank you for the day.
Thank you for each other and for the time and opportunities we have.
Thank you for our family and friends.
And alongside our thank you we will remember.