For so many of us who are fortunate, Thanksgiving highlights a persistent irony of our lives: while there is injustice and suffering around us, our own lives are full and rewarding.
I’m Jewish, so this creates a considerable measure of guilt. I’m well aware that I’m no more deserving of my good fortune than my friend who lost a job or a husband or a child deserves that fate. So much of life is simply luck of the draw.
The least I can do–the least any of us can do–is cultivate humility and gratitude in the face of our blessings.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, because it gives us an opportunity to step outside our daily routines and appreciate what we have. In my case, that includes a wonderful spouse who has put up with me for many years, children and stepchildren who are loving and interesting and accomplished people who give back to their communities, and (of course!) perfect, beautiful, wonderful grandchildren. Add good health and a job that’s rewarding, and I count myself among the luckiest women around.
A friend I admire greatly is fond of saying “From those to whom much has been given, much is expected.” I think about that, and about the Talmudic injunction to the effect that, while God doesn’t expect us to perfect the world in one generation, we aren’t free not to try.
In a moral universe, those of us who have so much to be thankful for have an obligation to those less fortunate. We may disagree about the shape/nature of that obligation, but when we ignore it, we end up with shriveled souls.