This fall, I visited with producers who are mired in three years of ongoing drought. Their livelihoods and their futures are literally turning to dust before their eyes. I’ve also seen the devastation wrought by floods and blizzards, but I have to admit that these tragedies also serve to remind me of just how fortunate we are as well.
Despite the trials and tribulations, the industry has a lot to be thankful for. We have moisture in many areas that were deficient, lower feed costs, record prices, etc. Of course, as Americans, all of us were given an amazing gift, a gift bought and paid for by past generations. Isn’t it ironic that the greatest blessings are rarely earned? Among these I would count my faith, friends, family and country.
These are largely gifts that most of us don’t earn ourselves, and probably don’t deserve. So you’d think we would be inherently grateful for these blessings. However, we often need to be reminded just how fortunate we are.
Perhaps we forget to be thankful for all that we’ve received because we convince ourselves that we’ve earned them, and that the bad things that occur to us are unjust outcomes of a random and cruel cosmos. Perhaps it is ego, or perhaps it is that we realize that with such an abundance of blessings comes great responsibility.
For people like us, blessed by being able to work in nature and care for God’s resources and animals, I think we have a higher bar to reach. Like the Bible says: “To who much has been given, much is expected.”
Perhaps that’s why Thanksgiving is such an important time of the year; it makes you focus not only on how fortunate you are, but what you have been called to do as a result of those blessings. I’m one of those who believe the desire to achieve more, and to strive for more, is inherently a good thing. And as I grow older, and hopefully wiser, I am beginning to understand that real wealth has little do with money, and that the real challenge isn’t in wanting more or comparing yourself to others. Rather, it’s how you can contribute to your family, community and world in a meaningful way in accordance with your talents and purpose.
Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate what you have. To me, nothing is sadder than those who are incapable of enjoying what they have because they are wanting more. It is almost paradoxical, but the most blessed are often the least grateful.
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John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins, once said, “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
I look at what I’ve been given – a chance to ranch, a wonderful family, good friends, and it is far more than I could ever deserve. I’m grateful, and I pray that I might show that gratitude in a way that spreads the blessing. I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving, and don’t forget to thank a veteran for your freedom.
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