I’ve often thought about how the beauty we experience each fall is a paradox. After all, aren’t the dazzling golden, orange, and crimson hues that permeate our senses really a result of leaves dying? And so, it is equally paradoxical that as we experience the scents and colors of the season, so many in the world are fighting to survive. For them, Thanksgiving is an elusive dream.

So, what can we do to help people in war torn countries? What power do we, as individuals have to bring about meaningful hope to those who have lost so much and are living in inconceivable circumstances? Perhaps we should start by reflecting thoughtfully on the fact that we are all inextricably connected, simply human, with the same wish to experience health, happiness, and freedom. Perhaps, as we sit at the Thanksgiving table this year, we can contemplate what it might be like to view all people in the world as friends, instead of enemies. After all, as Irene Butler, a holocaust survivor said, “An enemy is a person whose story you do not know.”

Thad Cummings, in writing for tinybuddha.com, points out how easy it is to blame political parties, or specific groups for the endless strife we seem to experience — natural disasters, school shootings, homelessness, wars, difficult employers or coworkers, and family strife. Cummings says that instead of blaming others for our unhappiness, we need to assume responsibility for our own happiness. In other words, we need to become more loving and understanding of one another. We need to acknowledge our shared humanity, and the fact that not one of us is better than another, that everyone is worthy of grace and compassion, even when we are not living up to our own ideals, and that everyone makes mistakes. In summary, Cummings says that if we care about changing the world, we need to become more compassionate, and start looking within.

As we all pray for peace, I wish you all the pleasure of warm cozy sweaters, fall scents, and a happy and healthy fall season filled with endless compassion for yourself and others.