Sunday, October 7, 2012

It's Thanksgiving - Am I Grateful?

It is Thanksgiving here in Canada.  I wrote this article of Thanksgiving Day reflections in 1998.  It is mostly still true today.

I'm thankful for being born in Canada in the latter half of the 20th century.  Because of this luck of my birth, I don't worry about being arrested, detained, and murdered solely because of my race or religion.  In Canada, we have a sense of connectedness -- we are all Canadians regardless of where we originate.  I am mindful that in other countries people live in fear of genocidal slaughter from their neighbours.

I'm thankful for being born in Canada in the latter half of the 20th century.  Had I been born even 10 years earlier my career, relationship, and reproductive choices would have been more narrow.  If I had been born 30 years earlier, I may have been discouraged from getting an education.  My friend's mother had to return a university scholarship because, in the 1940s, her family believed it would be wasted on a woman.

I'm very thankful for being born in a time when women are recognized as legal caregivers for their children.  I had a bicycle accident in 1960.  I was eight years old and living in Montreal.  My mother took me to the Emergency Department of a nearby hospital, but the doctors would not stitch up my bleeding and swollen lips until we could get my father's permission.  We sat in the waiting room for four hours until my father was located and could come to the hospital to sign the forms.  Any mother would rage at the senselessness of this.  Now, I can make choices, own property, and give consent in issues affecting myself and my child.  Nonetheless, I see no women in any of the trade apprenticeship courses that I teach.  I see that shelters are still full of women, but board rooms are not.

As a working person, I'm thankful for being born in Canada in the latter half of the 20th century.  I'm grateful to the workers who protested inequality and injustice, who fought the six-day, 60-hour work week, who fought for healthy and safe workplaces --  often against the police who were sent to break strikes.  Every worker in Canada has benefitted from the struggle and sacrifice of the early union members.  I'm aware that these struggles are not over.

I'm grateful for the connectivity made possible by modern technology, technology that did not exist until recently.  Through the almost-free Hamilton-Wentworth Community Network, I am able to connect to the Internet and have the wisdom of millions of people available to me.  They provide answers to questions simply out of their interest, generosity, and desire to make contact with others.  My friend, Sheila, lives on an island on the coast of  British Columbia.  Along with many other injuries, her spousal unit suffered vocal chord damage in a motorcycle accident.  He could only talk in a quiet, raspy voice.  This was affecting his confidence and self-esteem.  Sheila found a vocal chord web site in California and posted a message describing the problem.  The next day she received a phone call from a man in San Francisco telling her that a doctor in Vancouver had a new method of repairing the vocal chord injuries which she had described.  She was able to contact the doctor and schedule an appointment within 24 hours of posting her initial inquiry.

I'm thankful that I can experience this feeling of connectedness here in Canada in the closing years of this century.  At the bottom of my e-mail messages, I include a quote from Mitchell Kapur of the Electronic Freedom Foundation.  He says, "Unless the awareness of interconnectedness can stir compassion, it is of little use."  I hope our connectedness will help move humanity away from the hatred and prejudice of earlier times, and closer to compassion for one another.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog post showed up in my linkedIn newsfeed this morning and I absolutely loved this piece on Thanksgiving. I was having a chat with a friend recently about how lucky and grateful we feel have grown up in this sweet land of ours and how different life would have been elsewhere in another time! So nice to hear others also sharing that sentiment :-)