Miles Anton: Being Thankful After A Year Like 2017

Nov 22, 2017

As the nation once again celebrates Thanksgiving, the annual question of what it really mean to be thankful reappears. Miles Anton of Brattleboro shares his perspective on what the purpose of Thanksgiving.

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines being “thankful” as... no, we’re not going there, because these days, being thankful has lost much of its relevance and true meaning.

Most of us are focused on what inspirational quote would be best to post on Nov. 23 or what the best sale is on Black Friday.

Google search “thankfulness” and you’ll see countless rephrasings of the same basic idea: Be grateful for everything you have, you could always have less.

And while this is a powerful ideal, the reality is that many people are at rock bottom.

This was a rough year in our country. It started with Executive Orders directed at banning Muslims from entering the US and Transgender soldiers from serving in the military. With summer came devastating hurricanes and wildfires that damaged the country, then hate driven events in Charlottesville, Las Vegas, Texas and New York City.

2017 is on course to be the hottest year on record and wealth inequality has hit an all-time peak with the top 1 percent of the country controlling almost twice as much as the bottom 90 percent. Racial, religious and class divides in our country are stronger than ever. And to top it all off, the country hasn’t been able to unite behind our government, with record disapproval ratings of our President.

Being thankful, finding something to be grateful for having is remarkably tough in these days.

But it is possible if we remember to look toward the future. Giving is possible in the darkest of times. We can be proud of what we’ve worked for. We can spend time with family and loved ones, and be eternally grateful for the fact they’re here with us.

Material goods aren’t what really matters. How we make others feel and the way we leave the world after we’re gone is what’s important, and everyone has the opportunity to improve life for the next generation.

In spirit of the original Thanksgiving, I like to remember Native American leader and hero Crazy Horse, who said, “Treat the Earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors we borrow it from our children.”

This Thanksgiving, I hope we’ll take the time to remember that if we come together we can change the world and improve lives — for everyone.

Miles Anton is a high school student, writer, and filmmaker.