OUR OPINION: Fellow hurdlers, be thankful for the hurdles
Today across the U.S., Americans by the millions will give thanks for their blessings. But here's one blessing that's likely to be overlooked: Give thanks for the challenges that you've had to overcome -- and for the many more that await you in t...
Today across the U.S., Americans by the millions will give thanks for their blessings. But here's one blessing that's likely to be overlooked:
Give thanks for the challenges that you've had to overcome -- and for the many more that await you in the months and years ahead.
While you're at it, give special thanks for the leaders who've pushed you to overcome those challenges that you never thought you could.
This idea comes from Mark Hendrickson, an economist and adjunct faculty member at Grove City College's Center for Vision and Values in Grove City, Pa.
Think about it, Hendrickson suggests in a recent op-ed:
"We humans need to be challenged.
"Without challenges, we lose the motivation to work, to grow, to produce. We become passive, weak, even infantile. ...
"It's time for us to recognize and appreciate the value of challenges. We can start by acknowledging and being grateful for those who drive us out of our comfort zones and help us to grow."
"This Thanksgiving Day, let us give thanks for the coaches who push us beyond the limits of endurance to make us stronger, better athletes. Let us be grateful for teachers who refuse to accept mediocrity and insist that we master tough problems.
"Let us salute the drill sergeants in our Armed Forces who drive young men and women to overcome old limits and mold greater character. Let us appreciate pastors who jolt us out of complacency and spur us on to higher purposes. ...
"We tend to grumble about challenges," Hendrickson writes.
"But we shouldn't. They are opportunities -- the necessary stepping-stones to meaningful progress."
That's terrific advice, especially because it's so easy to forget in a society that prizes creature comforts.
And it's in line with Americans' experiences over time and in their daily lives.
We honor the Pilgrims today because they overcame challenges: the challenge of a crossing a wide and uncharted ocean, the challenge of surviving that first New England winter, the challenge of hunting and growing enough food.
Likewise, we honor the Founding Fathers not only for throwing off British rule, but also for meeting the even more difficult challenge of building a workable and sustainable government.
In 2010, most of us likely look back on challenges met and overcome as some of the most meaningful experiences of our lives.
And as for the U.S. as a whole, it, too, faces tremendous challenges, Hendrickson writes.
But "instead of retreating from these challenges, let us embrace them."
Those 10 words might just be a key formula for living a good life, on an individual as well as a national scale. Cherish that insight, and think of it as one more reason to be grateful on this Thanksgiving Day.
-- Tom Dennis for the Herald