The Lonely Goatherd Blog

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats - Matthew 25:32

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All original content on copyright 2008 Albert Barger or the respective authors

November 29, 2002


A cornucopia of blessings
I was too busy on Thanksgiving actually enjoying the good things to make any kind of statement of them. Checking the web late in the day, however, I found myself directed to The Boondocks cartoon. A foolish and ingrateful child had dutifully listed his five things to be thankful for, and was cut off by Grandpa as he prepared to begin reading "a short list of 1,543 things I am NOT thankful for." This inspires me to the conclusion that perhaps some sort of short counter statement is in order.

Some people seem to think that nihilism or just plain spitefulness equals intelligence and sophisitication. They are very foolish. You get one life to enjoy as best you can. It may not serve your best interests to just pretend everything is great when it's not, as this may de-motivate you from making improvements. However, it certainly does not serve your or anyone else's interests to go around mad at the world all the time either. That's just choosing to be miserable when you don't need to- and it's not motivational either. One day a year hardly serves as a bare minimum time to pause and appreciate the good things of life, and there are many more than five.

Some people in the world may understandably feel like they have more to be grateful for than others, but the average American really has it amazingly well. Depending on how you want to slice and dice it, even a somewhat below average income American enjoys greater prosperity than 99.9% of humans EVER. We enjoy a wonderous bounty. Our poor people are fat. Very few of us are homeless, hungry, lacking heat or decent clothes. We're all rich beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors, even some silly monkey clerking at a video store. For my part, I am grateful that even when I'm "broke" that doesn't mean I'm worrying about where the next meal is coming from. There's always food and heat and gas money. The bare necessities of life will come to you.

We should all express wonderous gratitude to the entire broad medical industry. Some folks resent them. They begrudge the profits that doctors and drug companies make. However, those profits pale in comparison to the good they do. Every day seemingly brings more miracles, more diseases cured or ameliorated.

People should appreciate how harsh nature is on our bodies, and how much we just don't even notice how well our system works because stuff gets prevented or fixed so smoothly so often that the gravity barely registers. Yup, this stuff costs money, and not everybody can afford absolutely every latest state of the art technique. However, anybody who shows up at the hospital will get treatment. The poorest Americans routinely get life saving surgeries and drugs that kings and queens couldn't get even just 20 or 30 years ago, let alone generations before that.

About five years ago I busted up my leg pretty bad. Two bones suddenly became five. Thinking back, it didn't seem possible that my stuff would be anything like right again. Yet today I'm something near good as new. I'm continually grateful for the skilled surgeon and his staff who fixed me, and the chiropractor who added the simple but critical final touch.

We should be grateful for all the ever expanding wonders of communications technology that enrich our lives. The internet has dramatically expanded my personal world. I am grateful for the chance it has given me to become friends with people far away from me, like Salam in Baghdad. It almost seems I can find out anything I want to know about anything within minutes sitting in my own bedroom- for free.

I'm grateful to all the artists who have shared their insights, visions and passions with me, from Aristophanes to Ayn Rand to Vermeer to Robert Mitchum and Tom T Hall. I'm grateful for the ability to download MP3 files- while appreciating the concerns of artists who still want to get paid for their efforts. My life has been enriched by having access to many out of print or previously obscure items. I'm grateful for CDs and CD burning technology that have given me personal copies of, for starters, hundreds of hours of old bluegrass and country records from the library.

I'm grateful for the American political system. Much of my website relates my misgivings, but let us not forget the bigger picture. The founding fathers handed us a beautiful vision, and very wise mechanisms for giving it life. Without wanting to court strife, I'm grateful that the shifting tides of popular opinion landed the steady if imperfect hand of George W Bush at the helm of our ship of state in these turbulent times.

Once I get started, I could be here for a good long time grokking and praising the endless good and wonderous things of life. But then I'd never get anything else done. So I will not even try to start on family and friends- though Hannah the Goat Girl cannot escape mention as a great loyal friend and a fiercely honest and fearless spiritual presence.

Let me conclude then with an expression of gratitude for the young generation coming up. They bring the strength and joy of youth, not yet fully burdened with the trials of adulthood, and the hope that in their lives they will be able to reach beyond the limitations that have held us back.

Generalizations will not suffice here, however, so let me indulge in mentioning just a couple specifically. My top Monkey Boy is turning eight. Besides taking an active interest in learning songs from Marx brothers movies and doing a mean Groucho dance, he enjoys a good game of Beat the Boy. His classic response to a savage beating from Uncle Al: "Thanks for the massage." That's nothing, however, compared to the beating his sister is going to get standing there in her pigtails if she gets any cuter or more loving and kind. I'm obviously quite proud of being her "meanest favorite." She'll stand to learn much from the fighting spirit of her older sister, now becoming a teenager and stepping up to the plate to start sorting out all kinds of adult stuff. Her early taste for Elvis Costello ["the real Elvis," whom she prefers to "the dead Elvis"] pleases me, and should stand her in good stead.

It pains me not to fully praise and cherish here every outstanding young person I have the privilege of knowing, but I'll mention only a couple more. My little Daniel stands strong amidst the total foolishness of his young parents, and the Critter dude maintains an open spirit amidst strife. Young Joshua is my little rabbi in the chaos. Lastly, I'm grateful for my Wayner, who may have no feet, but has enough heart for ten men.

Thinking of these things fills me with joy and gratitude. Thanks and praises to Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, or Ayn Rand as appropriate.

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

posted by Al at 11/29/2002 11:26:00 AM

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