This Thanksgiving, it is only right to give thanks for those who tell us why we should give thanks.
One of those is Yale law professor Stephen Carter, who recently wrote up 13 reasons we should be grateful to be alive in November 2017.
These included one well-worn theme – the fall in the number of people in extreme poverty – but it does bear repeating.
I was grateful Professor Carter’s personal list of things to be thankful for. For, we tend to forget the good things around us, remembering instead the divisive politics, the dangerous policies, the disasters and the suffering. And we think of all the sharp words and unkindness exchanged and are despondent. The world is not as it ought to be, we think, so what is there to be grateful for?
There is much.
The decline in extreme poverty is the most remarkable development in our times. It has gone, in the past three decades, from 42 per cent to less than 11 per cent. That’s pretty dramatic and it’s happened within living memory.
Then there is, as the Professor said, the music, art, books and television shows easily available to millions around the world. I am grateful for the chance to read ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ by George Saunders this year. The ManBooker-winning novel is one of the most inventive, imaginative and tender pieces of writing I have read in a long time.
I am grateful for the podcasts I love, not least Freakonomics, David Rothkopf’s Deep State Radio and Preet Bharara’s Stay Tuned.
I am grateful for Axios, Quartz and for The Economist.
And sitting here in Tunis, where the sun is shining brightly and little birds are dipping in and out of the hibiscus bush outside my window, the world is so beautiful, it dazzles.