An Atheist Gives Thanks

Thanksgiving is a holiday that ostensibly dates back to 1621 when the settlers in the Massachusetts Bay colony were so grateful to have survived their first year on these shores and for the bountiful harvest they enjoyed (with the help of the Native Americans who had lived there for centuries), that they set aside a day to celebrate and give thanks to their deity for these things. And taking the time to stop and reflect on our good fortune, whatever it may be, and the relatively comfortable circumstances that we may enjoy, is indeed a good thing to do.

Rather than waste time and effort thanking some imaginary creature in the sky who has absolutely nothing to do with anything, I’d like to take the time to acknowledge those who actually are responsible for the bounty that I will enjoy this holiday season and the comfort and pleasure that I will be afforded at this same time – and all through the year.

I’d like to start by thanking the farm workers who do the backbreaking work of harvesting the fruits and vegetables that we are able to enjoy in such abundance, often for meager pay or near slave labor conditions. And the people working in the meat/poultry processing industry. They, too, work at difficult and demanding jobs for very little pay.

I want to thank the emergency medical personnel, both mobile and hospital based, who work on the holiday to respond to medical emergencies while the rest of us are safely ensconced in our homes. And the firefighters who give up time with their families to protect the lives and property of those unfortunate enough to have disaster strike on the holiday.

I’d like to thank those who are working, or have worked, to combat or eradicate disease, to endeavor to understand the working of the human body in order to enhance the quality of life for their fellow human beings. And the scientists who have shown us how to understand our world, our universe, that we may better understand our place in this universe.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the leading intellects of the Enlightenment, the giants of progressive thinking who provided the basis for our nation’s Founding Fathers to craft two of the most radical, most important documents in the history of western civilization. And those same Enlightenment figures for their influence on civilization as a whole, for through their progressive influence we have managed to substantially improve the human condition.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom of religionists, we heathens do indeed like to give thanks. We just want to give that thanks to those who really deserve it.

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