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Happy Thanksgiving (Gratitude is a good thing)


Mark
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Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. It's evening here (and I'm on the west coast of north america so it's later everywhere else) and most of the day has passed, but I am hoping that everyone, in their own ways, has been able to enjoy the holiday.

Since we have lots of folks here who aren't Americans, it's worth saying a little bit about the holiday, which is uniquely American. It's basically a harvest festival that dates back, in spirit, to the early days of the European colonization of North America, to an event when the Pilgrims were provided with food by the native Americans. It's one of the big national holidays here, along with the 4th of July (Independence Day), and Christmas. I like it the best of all the holidays for several reasons, but two reasons stand out for why it is the best holiday of all.

1) because it is a holiday that asks each person to think about the things they are grateful for, which, though often a terribly difficult thing to do, is a good thing to do because by focusing on things that you are grateful for, you help yourself become happier, and you focus on the things that are most important and that helps bring some clarity to your life

2) because it isn't a commercialized holiday. There's a lot of specialty food sold this day (cranberrys, turkeys, etc.) and there is a relatively small trade in decorations and such, but for the most part, this is not a commercial holiday like Christmas has become, and it's really just about getting together with people you love (or your family - hopefully that isn't two mutually exclusive categories, but sometimes it is :D) and sharing a meal. Simple. Good.

Though by the time people get to read this, the holiday will be mostly over (and soon after the quiet of Thanksgiving we're hip deep into chaotic "black friday" the start of the shopping season for Christmas), I hope that the relative peace of this holiday, and it's positive focus sticks with you for a while. Gratitude is a good thing to cultivate all year.

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And I would like to give thanks to all the people who have participated here this year who have helped to make this place gel and work well enough if imperfectly. Participating in a community is not a simple thing or an undifficult thing. "Hell is other people" as one of those French existential philosophers is oft quoted (Sartre? Camus?) The only thing harder than being a part of a community is (usually) being alone.

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I too would like to thank this community, and the administrators for their efforts. I learn a great deal while I frequent the forum, and I am very grateful to everyone for their participation.

I think Sartre argued that people can only know themselves through others. If that is the case, considering all of the descriptions of myself by other people, I may be a great deal of things. But, within this “hell” rests the optimistic message of the existentialist: We can be anything. Heroes can commit villanous acts, and villains can commit heroic acts. Yet, through this freedom, I believe existentialists make the wager that truly human values can be construed from the actions of individuals, and that humanity will survive to appreciate them.

Should that be the case, I too choose to dance in this hell as far as my legs will take me...then I will start rolling.

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