I know it's after Thanksgiving, but it's never too late to be thankful. And 2009 feels like it's been a really, really hard year. Still, I'm wondering if I can come up with a list that we can all agree on ... because it feels like there has been so much divisiveness in the world these days. So let's start with that one.
1. The freedom to be divisive. Sure, we all like to complain about all the yapping people we don't agree with, whatever side they are on. But we live in a country where all that yapping is legal. We could live in a place where yapping leads to death or disappearance. We don't. We should all be thankful for that.
2. Indoor plumbing. I read an article somewhere about how brides in India are demanding toilets in exchange for marriage. Billions of people around the world don't have indoor plumbing. Not only is it unsanitary, it's also dangerous.
3. Mostly clean water. Sure, we are mucking it up with toxins and pharmaceuticals, but if we are thirsty, we can pretty much find a cool drink of water anywhere -- even if we have to pay for it. It doesn't make us sick. It doesn't kill our children with waterborne illnesses that lead to death.
4. Public education. Go ahead, complain all you want about how bad it is. But at least we have it. It's not as good as in many other countries, but at least it's there, and all kids are expected to go to school and get educated -- girls as well as boys.
5. Coffee. It's legal. There are no major health problems associated with it. It makes the world go around. Ok, it makes my world go around. I'm thankful for that.
6. Music. Think about the world 100 years ago. The only music people could listen to had to be performed live. Isn't that so weird? We have just come to expect that we can listen to anything, anytime, and anywhere. And we can. That would have been unfathomable to people in previous centuries.
7. Books and magazines. I know, I know, I'm in the business (which makes me even more thankful). But again, from the comfort of our beds and couches we can travel back in time, forward in time, to any place in the world and into worlds that don't even exist except in a writer's mind. The other night my daughter said: "I wish I could go online and buy a book and have it five minutes later." And I said, "You can. It's called a Kindle." Of course, we couldn't get it to work (close ... so close!). But it's the thought that counts. It's possible in the real world.
8. The Internet. How did we find things before the Internet? Whether it's the location of a restaurant or an old friend you haven't seen since high school, we can now find almost anything instantly.
9. Sex. You can all disagree about the details and parameters, but the fact remains that it's not only good for your health, but it feels good too. Whoever invented it deserves our thanks.
10. Love. Take away everything else and the only thing that really matters is love. But all the other things make love more pleasurable. Can you imagine the horror of watching your child, whom you love so much, die from a disease that was preventable just by having clean water to drink? Life is painful and miserable and often filled with horrific tragedy. But love is really the only cure. We are very lucky here in America to have many barriers to love removed -- we can marry for love and have indoor plumbing.
Don't forget it.