Every single one us has a cross to bear.

Have you ever heard that expression? If you haven’t, it implies that we all have our own struggles and difficulties in life, some small and some nearly insurmountable. The crosses we bear remind us that everyone makes mistakes and that no one is perfect; however, this does not mean that we should render ourselves hopeless just because we have flaws.

What I’m going to say is quite the opposite actually. We should all be thankful for what we have, never feeling resentful and never acting ungrateful. We all have our crosses to bear and we are all one family of human beings. Things are never going to be completely perfect but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be thankful for what we have, right?

Life in America is slightly problematic right now (hopefully you are already aware of this). Nine percent of people are unemployed and the amount of college debt is now higher than the amount of credit card debt. Being a college student, that is extremely alarming. At the same time, I’m thankful that I at least have the opportunity to attend college.

The sad thing is that while I (and probably many of the people reading this) can attend college and own a car, both expensive investments, others are struggling to feed themselves and their families. It’s heartbreaking to know that three billion people around the world live on less than $2 U.S. dollars a day.

The issues of poverty and the wealth gap in America have really resonated with me this semester and with Thanksgiving being a day to be grateful for all we have, I feel that now is a good time to post this entry. Maybe you didn’t know some of these alarming facts. Maybe you don’t think twice about the clothes that you wear or the food that you eat or the computer (or smartphone) that you are reading this from. Not everyone is privileged to have these things.

As I have learned over the past few months, the best we can do to help those who live where there are few things to be thankful for is to acknowledge that they exist. I am always bothered when someone says, “they’re from another country – why does this matter to me?” or “it’s not my problem that they are struggling.”

Neither of these remarks are true. Sure, you want to put yourself first and worry about you family, your job, etc., but what gives you the right to say that certain people more or less don’t matter? Even by localizing the opportunities and possessions people do and don’t have, why should they not be considered? Someone who is homeless doesn’t have an income and someone living off of food stamps probably can’t afford much more than food to feed their families. No one is obligated to help but we should all at least consider these people’s needs and respect that they aren’t as privileged.

I know that things aren’t easy for anyone right now because of the economy. As optimistic as I usually am, you just can’t sugarcoat this fact. Job prospects are scarce for college graduates and many industries are not hiring (unless you plan on becoming an engineer or going into the medical field). But that doesn’t mean we should fall into hate and hopelessness. If anything, we should say that we can change this and maintain the belief that things will get better.

With that being said, it’s Thanksgiving today. Be thankful for what you have and don’t take anything for granted. Nothing. As I said before, if you can simply read this you are more blessed than others. If you will be sitting at a table with people you love, you are luckier than others. Others, unfortunately, are not able to enjoy what so many of us have.

Remember to keep an open mind as well as an open heart. Think about those in need and who/what you are thankful for. We are all blessed in our own ways, even with the crosses each of us have to bear.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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