Canadians just finished celebrating Thanksgiving Day, many with family get-togethers and great food. Hopefully also with a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness for the lives of abundance that most of us enjoy in this great country.
Sure, it’s a rough year for farmers and the oil patch isn’t as robust as many would prefer, but we are still a very privileged lot when compared to the world.
On October 5, 2019, Lisa LaFlamme interviewed Jeopardy game show host, Alex Trebek, on CTV’s W5. Trebek in his lifetime gained great wealth and great fame but that hasn’t saved him from pancreatic cancer nor a shortened life—the great equalizer.
Trebek wasn’t feeling sorry for himself, nor was he fearing death.
“Makes me appreciate the hardships of many other people,” he said. “I’m in a position to help. Why not do something to make their lives a little easier, give them the break that I had in a different context. Maybe that would turn their lives around as it did mine. And there’s no downside to it, that makes them feel good, I feel good because I’m making them feel good, so why not do it.”
Trebek has been using his wealth to help children aboard and students at home.
He gave more than $9.5M of his personal wealth to his alma mater, the University of Ottawa.
When asked about having his name attached to the Alex Trebek Alumni Hall, his response clearly showed his gifting was not about honouring himself. “I’m not doing it for glory, I’m doing it to try and make a positive difference in the world and if I can, great,” he said.
Trebek was wise enough to know he was not self-made and it took many people and opportunities to get him to where he is today.
In Jeremy David Engels’ book, ‘The Art of Gratitude’, he wrote, “we become accustomed to thinking of ourselves as isolated individuals, immune to the needs and wants of others, invulnerable to the world”.
Trebek never succumbed to the ‘meism’ disease. “Like most people who have achieved a certain success in life it behoves you to start giving back and you want to start giving,” said Trebek.
He told LaFlamme his passion to help children overseas started when he saw pictures of starving Ethiopian children in the mid-1980s.
His most poignant moment came at a feeding station in Ethiopia where the food had run out and a mother receiving none, pushed her baby into his arms and begged, “be the father, please.”
Alex Trebek is proud of his two children and adores his wife. He gives her the credit for much of his success and for raising children with societal awareness even though raised with a life of privilege.
The contrast between the Trebek and the Trump families is simply striking. Both families of privilege— one lives with gratitude and humility; one lives with pride and greed. One is content, the other jealous and angry.
In this season of thanksgiving, Engels quotes an Old Cherokee legend on the meaning of life which is worth pondering.
“The old man tells his grandson that there is a battle raging in all of us between two wolves. One wolf is evil: angry, fearful, untrusting, untruthful, violent, esurient, self-pitying.
The other wolf is good: happy, kind, truthful, peaceful, generous, trustworthy, serene. “Which wolf will win, the grandson asks? “Whichever one you feed,” the grandfather replies.”