Ok... now on to the typical spiel where I am supposed to talk about what I'm thankful for. I personally have a lot to thankful for. I have a lot of great people in my life scattered across the world. (Are you one of them?!) For this reason alone, I cannot be thankful enough. I have love, friends, and a fair amount of contentment. I may not make much money, but I have a dream job doing something I really care about - bringing people closer together. All I have to do is look at LiveJournal's communities or places like ljcouples to really feel good about what I have done for the past year. I used to feel like a whore doing my old job, and I would charge as much money as I possibly could because I just didn't want to do what I was doing, no matter how much it paid or how cushy the work was. It didn't mean anything to me on a human level. LiveJournal does. It enables the expression of humanity in all its forms and variations, and there's little else that is more important to me.
I like to be expressive myself, but I don't always have the time, and sometimes I don't have the words... but I know that some of you do. That's why I don't mind as much lately if I don't post to my journal as often as I used to. I've traded in a degree of my natural introspection and replaced it with advocacy and evangelism. It was probably a good thing, though.
Did I get off topic? Perhaps. I guess what I want to say is that I have a whole lot to be thankful for, and I take a whole lot for granted. I am very rarely satisfied with the status quo and I take the rights that I have as a given. In short, I, Mark Kraft, am an ingrate.
So, if I have one message for you this Thanksgiving, it's this: be an ingrate too -- just be informed and don't be selfish about it. Accept all the blessings of the world and be aware of how special they are, but never stop wanting something better for yourself and for everyone else too. You should expect more, want more, and have high expectations for yourself and the world around you, because that is how progress happens.
Yes, there is a lot wrong with the world, and it's hard at times to not feel that things are going downhill, but if you think about things with a historical perspective, you can't help but realize how far we have come. In my relatively short lifetime, I have lived through the end of the Vietnam war, the birth of the Internet, establishment of U.S. relations with China, the Middle East Peace Agreement, the birth of the personal computer, the birth of the WWW, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the democratization of Eastern Europe, Glastnost, Peristroika, and the legalization of homosexuality in most of the U.S. All of these things came about through the actions of some very normal yet very determined human beings. Determination comes from following your bliss - which is to say pursueing, strengthening, and protecting that which you love and believe in. If you are following your bliss, it will guide your steps and lighten your burdens -- it will give you the power to see the race to the end regardless of the difficulties involved. All you have to do is believe.
In other words, be an informed idealist with a passion for making the world not just better for yourself, but for everyone else too. Believe in your heart that you can change the world, because, well... you can.