virgin islands scene

Be kind whenever possible, and it is always possible.
-- The Dalai Lama
 

 

Thursday, November 23, 1995

Thanksgiving

Today is the day we in the United States traditionally pause to take stock of our blessings, to remember and give thanks.

The first Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving were primarily thankful for their survival. They were pioneers in a new world and were daily faced with the harsh realities of life without any of the comforts of civilization.

Today, most of us are fairly confident or our survival from day to day. Our material “blessings” are orders of magnitude more abundant, in both quality and quantity, than those of the original Thanksgiving participants. Survival is no longer a big concern for most of us -- we are, thankfully, fairly confident that there will be a meal on the table tomorrow, and the next day.

There’s one blessing, though, that hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years. And that is the blessing of community. All the other people in our lives. Life would be pretty meaningless without them. We could have all the material luxuries in the world, and most of them would be worthless without anyone to enjoy them with.

Beyond that, it is the other members of our community (and with the Internet, our definition of community is changing dramatically) that give life its variety and character. We all depend on each other for creating the stuff of life. Think of all the people whose efforts go into everything you have, everything that entertains you, everything that sustains you physically, everything that comforts you, all the art that appeals to your sense of beauty. Our strong community structure allows us each to specialize. Some of us work at putting food on the table, others work at putting roofs over our heads, others work to create beautiful art, others create words and pictures that make us think and grow, and still others build and maintain the machinery that moves our bodies, our things, and our ideas from place to place.

If each of us had to worry about growing and processing and cooking our food, and building our own shelter, and making the clothes to keep us warm, we would have time for little else. Participation in a dynamic community gives us each the opportunity to do what we do best. And that, in turn, benefits the community as a whole.

As great as our communities have been in the past, up until very recently they have been limited by physical location. For communities to form, intimate and continuing communication is needed among community members. For most of history, that has meant that communities are defined primarily by geographical location.

Quite obviously, the Internet is changing all that. This explosively growing worldwide communication system is a breeding ground for hyper-communities, entities that will bring the benefits of specialization to unimagined heights. At the core of all the hype and potential surrounding the Internet, is the driving force of a new breed of community. That is what makes it all so exciting.

When we think of all the wonderful things that the Internet is making possible, we need to remember that behind it all are people. Without each other, none of it would be worth anything. So when we give thanks today, let’s don’t forget to be thankful for each other. Our community, no matter how it is defined, gives us each the power and support to be the best that we can be.

— Ralph Marston

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Copyright ©1995 Ralph S. Marston, Jr. All Rights Reserved. The Daily Motivator is provided for your personal, non-commercial use only. Other than personal sharing, please do not re-distribute without permission.