On Thursday, America celebrates Thanksgiving - a time when families spend hours and sometimes days cooking every delicious food known to man, a time when y'all sit around a table with the family you love and the family you tolerate – and you pray a political argument does not start before saying grace. After food, it will likely be time for the main event – watching your favorite sport on your 42 inch TV and having leftovers.
America you truly have traveled a long way since the Mayflower pilgrims landed on your shores 398 years ago. Those pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 because of a successful harvest and celebrated the second one in 1623 because of the rain after a long drought. (Can you imagine ever being so thankful for rain, that you would celebrate it?).
Before you enjoy your family time, I think it is critical to reflect on some of the miracles we see in our world every day, that we may take for granted.
Earth & Mother Nature
In this world of instant gratification, we take so many things for granted and just expect things to happen like it is routine. We expect the sun to rise in the east and set in the west – but have you ever looked at our planet and be in complete awe?
- Have you ever thought about how our planet is constantly rotating inside a system of other planets that also rotate around each other and yet we never collide?
- Ever thought about the miracle of us simply being able to walk around - our planet is constantly traveling around 1000 miles an hour and yet we never fall or lose balance?
- Ever thought about the miracle of rain? We live in an atmosphere that collects moisture from our planet which then resides in the clouds in the sky and then is released when they collide.
- Have you ever looked at the beauty of our planet and feel like it is an artist canvas? Whether it is the slopes, the different colors in trees, plants or grass or simply the amazing sky filled with so much character?
- Ever thought about the miracle of farming and growing the crops we eat? The fact we can plant a seed in the soil, water it, look after it and it grows and then we eat it when it fully matures?
Standard of Living
We have also been blessed to see incredible man-made advancements over the last 10, 20 and 100 years that we should be thankful for. I am in my mid-thirties so let's compare the standard of living from when I was growing up and look at the advancements to today.
Let's start with my favorite advancements. Have you noticed the increase in choices of food available to you? When we were growing up some produce was seasonal - today you can buy food at any time of the year as food comes from around the globe.
In our local supermarket, they regularly have promotions with food from other cultures around the world - they have French week, Spanish week, American week etc. If you like food from a different culture, you can get it most of the year now.
Have you noticed how easy it is to entertain yourself today and the standard of that entertainment? When we were growing up, we would go outside and entertain ourselves by playing soccer or some other game and when it was dark we would come inside and go to bed. On rainy days, we could sit inside and play board games or watch the one TV in the household which only had 6 stations and was about 3 foot deep. If you wanted to watch a programme at a certain time you had to watch live, and if someone else in your family wanted to watch something at the same time, YOU HAD TO COMPROMISE - or if it was your parents, you watched what they wanted.
Today we entertain ourselves by playing video games from the comfort of our own chair on the X-Box or PlayStation. We can watch live TV, or we can watch on demand on our flat-screen which likely have 100's of stations. If that was not enough we likely have more than one TV so there is no need for compromise and we have the added benefits of apps where we can stream and binge watch shows on platforms like Netflix or Amazon that we can even watch on our phones or tablets.
Do you remember the phone you grew up with? There was usually one phone in the house, it was centrally located, you had zero privacy, you actually had to answer the phone to see who was calling, and the most horrific thing about the phone - it only had one function, to make and receive phone calls.
Today people use cell phones and we all have one of our own. We can walk and talk, have complete privacy *(apart from the NSA), we can call screen and decide if we actually want to talk to the person calling. Today we can do a lot more on our phones including texting, email, take pictures, look at the internet, go onto social media, listen to radio or podcasts, watch videos, listen to music and play games. Today we have more power and access to more information with our phones than Bill Clinton had when he was President of the United States.
Do you remember your first computer? I do. It was big, bulky, slow and could only do a few things on it. It had Microsoft word, excel, dial-up internet, and two games - solitaire and minesweeper. When we wanted to use it, it took forever to load.
Today computers are smaller, faster with Wi-Fi broadband and extremely fast. We also have laptops which today can do more than at any point in human history. We have cloud technology which connects everyone. I am blessed to do a show on the Blaze and each week I am amazed at what we can do. Every Thursday I sit in my office in Ireland and use a free app on my PC, record my show, upload it to the cloud which takes seconds and I can email my producer Kris (who is nearly 5000 miles away) the details and he can instantly access and download my recordings. He then edits my show, (hopefully makes me sound better), uploads to all platforms and people can listen anywhere around the world.
If you are under 21 today, you really don't understand the joy of music. I grew up in an era where we had to work hard to listen to our favorite songs. We had these things called cassette tapes and you had to rewind and fast forward several times to get to the exact point where your song started. If you wanted to repeat the song, you had to go thru the whole process again. I remember living thru the revolution of the Discman where music came on CD's that allowed you to skip to any song you wanted easily. Both of these are rarely seen today as they have been replaced by the iPod or streaming.
The other option was something we did every day after school - we would come home, put on a station that just played music called MTV (today you likely know MTV as the station where you watch 16 and pregnant or teen mom), and we would do our homework and wait until our favorite song came on.
As impressive as the above are, I believe we have made the biggest improvements in education. Today there is no excuse for ignorance as you can teach yourself ANYTHING. If you wanted to be smart when I was growing up, you had to do really well in school, go to college and actually work hard. If you wanted to learn about a certain topic it required you to go to your library with all the nerds, look for books on the topic and go thru each book and learn about it.
Today you can educate yourself from the comfort of your own home. Is doing well in school still a positive thing? YES. But today you don't need to go to college to be smart. Colleges like MIT make all their courses available online for free. If you want to research something today, you don't need to go the local library, you can google and research it on the internet from the comfort of your living room or even on the toilet in complete privacy.
Today you also have access to more information, with the creation of companies like Amazon; you have access to more products than ever before. You can buy physical books in a used condition, you can buy books for your Kindle or if you are not the best reader you can buy audiobooks. The other advantage of these wonderful services is sometimes you can get access to free products. I am always searching Amazon and I purchased and downloaded 12 different books of writings by Edmund Burke for the grand total of ZERO dollars. Amazon also regularly has penguin classics like Moby Dick etc. for free.
Our world has changed dramatically for everyone in the last thirty years. With the advancements in technology, a lot of these products have become considerably cheaper over time which means any positive changes directly benefit EVERYONE in society and they can help empower people who come from poorer backgrounds.
Looking at all the advancements we have made, it would be very easy to simply celebrate material things. However, that is not the real miracle here. The real miracle is the environment needed to create these products and historically only America has truly ever understood this idea.
Man is meant to live free to pursue their own happiness, to be allowed to succeed or fail on their own merit and if they are successful to keep the fruits of their labor.
It is why the world changed and improved for the better when America was formed. If we share these principles again, just close your eyes and imagine what our world could look like in 5, 10 or 20 years.