With Remembrance Day still fresh in our memories, and as the United States prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought it would be an apt time to draw attention to the spirit of remembrance and thankfulness that marks this time of year.
If you have ever participated in a Thanksgiving celebration, you may be familiar with the practice of sitting around the dinner table as everyone offers something for which they are thankful; this could be one’s own health and wellbeing, a recent promotion at work, or being close with family and friends. Now, put yourself at the dinner table—what are you thankful for?
As we move ever closer to the holiday season, the temperatures will get colder, our diaries will get fuller, and most likely, our bank balances will get smaller. Before the onset of holiday madness sets in, however, consider the following:
- Got a roof over your head? One billion people in the world live in slums—that’s one-sixth of the world’s population.
- Do you have a bathroom or toilet? Forty percent (around 2.6 billion people) of the world’s population lack access to proper sanitation and plumbing, which spreads disease and infection.
- Is there food on your table? Approximately 790 million people in the world are classified as chronically undernourished, and almost 28% of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted.
- Have a regular income? Eighty percent of humanity lives on $10 (just over £6) or less per day—this brings the world’s average income to a staggering £4,400 per year. At the same time, only 19% of the world’s population live in countries with per capita incomes at least this high.
- Are you generally healthy? Everyone, regardless of nationality, race, or income, will face illness. Restricted access to healthcare (or the complete absence thereof), however, results in 2.2 million fatalities among non-immunized children in the developing world per year.
If these statistics make you feel guilty, don’t let them—they simply illustrate a few reasons you have to be thankful about your current state. You, individually, are not responsible for the world’s problems, but you can help to change them; after all, gratitude without action is purely empty emotion.
One thing I’ve always loved about our MITIE Client Services community is the overwhelming devotion to charity work; the commitment to seeing problems in our world and setting out to fix them. We’ve helped at soup kitchens, ran marathons, climbed mountains, and organised fundraisers—all for the purpose of affecting a change for those less fortunate than ourselves.
Maya Angelou once said, “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” This is such a beautiful mantra for this season of thanksgiving and remembrance—but it also holds true throughout the year. Remember that which you have and be grateful, and give generously so that others may also thrive as you have.
By David Melnick