thankful for trouble

Today is Thanksgiving Day when most people in America remind themselves of all the good things in their lives and express gratitude for their blessings. As well they should.

My take on this day is a little different…

I deal all the time with kids whose lives are absolutely miserable—kids who are locked up in awful jails and prisons, sometimes for things they didn’t do; kids who are being victimized by predatory guards, cruel prosecutors and judges, lazy and dishonest cops; kids who have been horribly abused by their parents and other adults and driven to committing desperate acts, failed and abandoned by a system that’s supposed to have protected them.

On the surface of these kids’ lives it is very difficult to see many things for which to be thankful—that is, until you consider that problems are really just opportunities with thorns on them. The opportunities hidden behind these particular thorns may be, in fact, so great that they dwarf the problems.

For example, that cruel cop who pepper-sprayed the peaceful demonstrators last week at the University of California Davis may have done more to help the Occupy Movement than ten thousand peaceful demonstrators ever could have. The injustices currently being suffered by Alex King, James Prindle, Jordan Brown, Paul Henry Gingerich, and Blade Reed may do more to undercut the abusive authority of the so-called law-and-order states than might any number of early courtroom successes.

Many years ago I was once privileged to join Frits Phillips, the chairman of the Dutch electronics firm, at supper. “It is often hard to distinguish between the hard knocks in life and those of opportunity,” he said. I am mindful of his advice when I say that it is up to us to help others—and young people especially—to turn trouble on its head and transform it into opportunity.

I am profoundly thankful to have you with me in pursuing this mission. Thank you for your continuing interest and support. It’s making a difference.

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

~Milton Berle


Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Rolling Stones performing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

6 Responses to “thankful for trouble”

  1. 1 Wolfgang
    November 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    We don’t have thanksgiving here today, but it reminds me on slices of a very dry turkey I’ve got for dinner in San Francisco 21 years ago, I remember they had turkey or turkey…

    As for the today’s motto “thanksgiving” -here you can help



  2. 2 matt
    November 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Yes, some of these kids are truly guilty, while others are not or have only been accused. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to condone or even understand their actions or motivations, in order to defend them from injustice.

    I came to poetry through the urgent need to denounce injustice, exploitation, humiliation. I know that’s not enough to change the world. But to remain silent would have been a kind of intolerable complicity. – Tahar Ben Jelloun

  3. 3 Gloria
    November 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    We don’t have Thanksgiving here either but
    Happy thanksgiving to everyone.:) Hope all of you enjoy this holidays with your loved ones.

  4. November 25, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Dan, Thank you for saying how it truely is for these kids and for reminding us blessings and victories often burst from under a cloak of despair. Thank you and the other advocates for your good works for these kids.

  5. November 25, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I did pray for Alex, James, Blade, Jordon, Dominic and others yesterday. Breaks my heart what kids go thru and how the adults in this world be so damn cruel to kids such as something they did not do and chatged as adults whether if they did not do or did. No kids shall be charged as adults when there not even 18 and up.

  6. November 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Dan thanks for that great article is reminds me of the idea that a problem is just a solution in disguise. Happy Thanksgiving to you an all those who are working for the injustices done to children in the United State as a result of the police state.

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