Thanksgiving Gratitude From IHE's Staff

Image courtesy of Calsidyrose via Creative Commons.
Gratitude is such an important part of humane education and changemaking. Since today is Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., some of the IHE staff wanted to share with you what we're thankful for.

And we'd like to take a moment to say how grateful we are for your support and everything you're doing to create a better world. We couldn't do this work without you. So Thank You So Much!

 Sarah Speare, IHE's Executive Director:

I am thankful and in awe of the beauty, love and inspiration that abounds on our planet earth. May it unite us all in peace and justice.

Zoe Weil, IHE's President:

Some people say grace before a meal. In our family we each say something that we’re grateful for before dinner. It’s a powerful practice. If I’ve had a bad day; if I’m feeling a bit petulant, whiny, or peeved, the ritual of giving thanks always puts things in perspective. And thank goodness I have this daily ritual in my life, because I can’t imagine trying to express my gratitude just once a year at Thanksgiving. It would take the whole day! For this Thanksgiving blog post, the collected expressions of gratitude from our staff at IHE, I know I need to narrow it down. This is what comes to mind: I’m grateful that this dream I had so many years ago of a comprehensive humane education movement spreading across the globe is slowly but surely coming to pass. We have programs and graduates on every continent except Antarctica. People contact me every week because they’ve seen one of my TEDx talks and want to bring humane education into their classrooms and communities. Our free resources have been downloaded more than 150,000 times over the past couple of years. And more and more young people are becoming solutionaries for a better world. This gives me great hope.

Mary Pat Champeau, IHE's Director of Education:

I am grateful for the community of dedicated and passionate people that surround, enrich, and deepen my life and work every single day.

Melissa Feldman, IHE Faculty:

I spend Thanksgiving with my family. I enjoy taking out the once-a-year impractical serving dishes, pondering the menu with my partner and experimenting in the kitchen. Last year my root vegetable puree was only a partial hit; I have a new idea for this year: a mushroom dill strudel. It’s a leisurely day as we are only five in my family who live close enough to spend the holiday together. We play games. We share our own stories. We often read and discuss short stories or news articles. We laugh and sometimes cry as we think about who is not present at our table. On Thanksgiving Day, I think in particular of those not present. There will be no turkey on our table, but I think of the millions of turkeys that take center stage, yet remain entirely invisible, in so many American homes.

I think of all those with no home, no family, no food, no rest, no safety, no power, no peace, no voice, no choice, and little hope. It took me many years to reconcile my incredible privilege with what is occurring to people, other animals, and to the environment in this moment, in this country and around the world. Right now. There have been many days, weeks, and months when I could not find one thing about which to be grateful. I would have ridiculed the question. But that’s no way to live. Despite the seemingly overwhelming, relentless and intractable global challenges that must be addressed, and addressed soon, I look for and find reasons to be grateful.

So yes, I do enjoy Thanksgiving. I make time for good food and good company. I celebrate what is to be celebrated. After all, much good has come of people sitting down together, breaking bread, or in the case of our Thanksgiving, breaking cornbread and rosemary biscuits.

On Black Friday, I will not be shopping. I will again focus on making most good/least harm choices, daily doing what I can do. But, I insist on enjoying each day, taking time to bake bread, have coffee with a friend, ride my bike, or go swing dancing. And, above all, I try to remember to be grateful. Every day.

Amy Morley, IHE's Director of Operations:

I’m thankful that I’m not alone in wanting and working for a healthier, more sustainable world.
I am thankful to any person that stands up peacefully for justice.
I’m thankful to IHE, Zoe, and everyone who has ever worked with IHE for being a part of opening up my eyes to the reality of the world situation.
Before working with IHE, I was more aware of human suffering and environmental degradation. I’m thankful to IHE that I have learned about animal suffering and I am thankful to have an open enough heart to include animals in my concern.
I’m thankful for all of the kindness I have received in my life.
I’m thankful I have enough food to eat and a beautiful shelter where I live.
I’m thankful for my health and for being alive.

Lynne Westmoreland, IHE online course instructor:

I'm grateful for my mindfulness practice, which allows me to deal with darker, more difficult emotions with equanimity, balance, and clarity. I am also enormously grateful that since the death of my mother four years ago and the impending death of my father, there is healing of decades of wounding and misunderstanding.  I never thought this outcome would be possible, and the road ahead is still unclear, but there is an opening of hearts and intentions that gives me the greatest hope for healing of my family I have experienced in my adult life. And finally I feel such gratitude for the number of healers, artists, writers, friends, mentors, activists, musicians, politicians, faith communities, children, adults, and animal spirits that are working for the healing of our planet, of all species, and are revealing to us the enormity of our possibility and potential when we allow our hearts to be open.

Marsha Rakestraw, IHE's Director of Online Courses, Online Communications & Education Resources

I'm so grateful for all the many blessings in my life, and for everyone in the world who is doing their best to create a just, compassionate, healthy world for all people, animals, and the earth.

Happy Thanksgiving! May you find much to be thankful for today, too!

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