Some of what I give thanks for:
The different: Those I disagree with, or who speak different languages than I, or put their faith in different places than I do. They keep me humble, keep me in my place.
Public servants: Those who work for local, state and federal agencies. The often maligned and nearly always neglected. It is true, there are some who are petty bureaucrats, who are lazy, dishonest or even mean. Then there are those who not only put in an honest days work, but go beyond in their attempt to meet the demands we as a society, in our various ways, ask of them. The label Public Servant, when worn properly, is truly one for which I give thanks.
All the troublemakers, opinionated and active: Those who are willing to question the appointed experts; who are willing to stand up with just common sense and a demand that their families, their communities and their government be safe, sane and healthy (and the experts among them). Yes, there are the crackpots, the just plain pains and those who are merely wishing to hear their own voices. Yet if we were all to let the fear of appearing as such stop us from speaking, from acting and demanding, only the powerful would be heard. Without those willing to speak, we would live in any one of all too many forms of tyranny.
Ugly, little known and seemingly insignificant critters: The small nondescript flower that blooms on saline clays for a week or two and is rarely seen, and may not have a scientific name. The native fish that lives in muddy river bottoms eating detritus. The bug that pollinates the nondescript flowers, then seemingly disappears. And yet without any one of them, our world would not function as beautifully and mysteriously. It would fall apart in some unknown manner.
Dirt, microbes and scavengers: What all we larger life forms are built from, and that to which we will all return.
Metals, carbon and other chemicals: That with which we humans have been able to craft such things as homes, the frames of our eyeglasses and the lenses they hold (whether plastic or glass), paints, cars, the computer I type this on, and the mind-boggling systems that tie them all together. Our mobility, our ability to visit the wild spaces on a weekend and our electricity (whether solar, wind or coal fired, all are dependent).
Energy: The sun, wind, waves, dead stuff (see carbon above) and small children. I lean on their inherent energy continuously.
And, yes, I am thankful for wild spaces full of elk and lynx and bear, free-flowing rivers and streams full of trout and macroinvertebrates, and clear skies, and abundant locally grown food, and local restaurants in which to eat it, honest businesses and hard workers, and good people to run for elected office, and dogs to play with and snow on which to ski.
Oh, and my friends, my family and my wife did I forget them?
email@example.com. Dan Randolph is executive director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance.