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Be Thankful In Spite of It All

The last few years have been quite a ride, no lie. The pandemic refuses to die. Divisions of all sorts plague our world. Our planet itself seems to be rebelling against its mistreatment with harsh weather across the globe. With so many reasons to despair, how can we be thankful?

But it's not all gloom and doom. Many people have found ways not only to make it, but even to thrive in the face of all the challenges. In her recent book-length interview. famed chimpanzee naturalist Jane Goodall lists the indomitable human spirit as one of her main reasons for hope. (You can read my review of The Book of Hope on Goodreads.)

An end of the year project I always liked when I taught AP World History was asking students to sum up one of the most important themes they learned from the course. One young woman memorably picked trade. She described how the cultural and technological exchanges that often tagged along trade routes were responsible for tremendous progress and the expansion of what people are able to do. Learning from those who had skills, resources, or wisdom we didn't has long enriched people's lives.

In recent years, as awareness has grown of the horrific exploitation of native peoples during the age of colonization, it's been harder to innocently celebrate Thanksgiving. But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. The Pilgrims really did undergo tremendous hardship to found their vision of a new world. Natives really did help them and feast with them, despite all the violence and prejudice that would ensue.

We can reach across the barriers that would divide us and share our blessings. Don't let the naysayers, of whatever stripe, ruin your ability to share your gifts. And when we do share what each of us has to give, we're all the richer for it. Happy Thanksgiving!

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