The Earth formed 4 1/2 billion years ago out of a random collection of cosmic gas and dust.
Over the intervening eons, everything has worked out exactly right to get us to where we are today.
At this season of thankfulness, we should all revel in our incredibly good luck.
Not only has the planet survived this long journey through the void of space, it has developed exactly the right conditions to provide us with the riches we take for granted.
Our gifts include the thin skin of oxygen-rich atmosphere that surrounds the surface of the planet.
With fortuitous evolution, we are in sync with this environment and could not exist without it. But how do we show our thanks?
We treat the air around us as a vast sink for waste products.
Our actions are creating a blanket of greenhouse gases that threatens many existing forms of life, including humans, in a short period of time.
We have been given a copious water resource in various forms. Few of the other billions of rocks floating in space have the conditions we experience that make water so readily available.
This resource is the key ingredient in the evolution of all manner of creatures.
We show our thanks by filling the waterways with silt and contaminated runoff, by discharging waste products from industrial operations into precious water resources, and by treating the oceans as unlimited reservoirs for accepting anything and everything.
We have mineral resources and fossil fuel reserves that have resulted from endless cycles of life and death, heating and cooling, and land formation and erosion that transpired long before there was any hint of human beings.
In very recent history, we have cut off mountaintops, dug vast holes in the ground and tapped the reserve of fossil fuels to exploit these limited resources in every conceivable way.
We have been fortunate in the evolution of a rich diversity of plant and animal life.
This good fortune is instrumental in supporting the human species in every type of environment.
Our response to this bounty is one of exploitation and neglect. We burn the rainforests, alter the landscape and increasingly destroy habitat.
Species are being lost from the planet at an alarming rate and will never be seen again.
We should celebrate, not disparage, the range of variability within the human species. The rich diversity of people around the world is the soul of existence.
Individuals and groups are different everywhere; this is the strength of our being. Too often, diversity has become a code word leading to conflict and discrimination.
We seem unable to see the strength of spirit because of differences in color, beliefs or appearance.
We have been given so many resources to support and enrich who we are. We should be thankful.
We should be striving to preserve, enhance and magnify the richness. We seem to be unable.
On the current path, we may only be selfishly thankful for our good fortune to be alive today rather than 100 years from now.