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November 26, 2008

Thanks Be to Good

If you were to sit in my chair as president of The HSUS, you'd get an unobstructed view of the human spirit and character.

The fact that a group like The HSUS exists at all—and happens to be one of the world's most powerful advocacy groups—says a great deal about the good of people. On display at The HSUS are the values of kindness, generosity, and sacrifice. I am thankful every day that millions of Americans express their support for this organization and enable such a force for the good to exist.

Yet that The HSUS must exist at all reflects that a species capable of so much altruism is equally capable of selfishness, greed, and cruelty. Not a day goes by when I am not shaken and confounded by acts of indifference and malice—whether it is individual cases of cruelty, or large-scale institutionalized forms of exploitation, which are themselves so often models of unnerving efficiency and creativity.

Indeed, we live in a society that is aswirl with countervailing, contradictory, and self-negating forces.

But a corollary principle at The HSUS is that our broader circumstance is not static. We at The HSUS believe that, while cruelty and greed are intensely powerful forces, they can be overcome or at least constrained, either through the development and enforcement of the law; the advance of logic, philosophy, and science; and the unyielding desire of our species to progress and innovate and find solutions.

With this distinctively North American holiday of Thanksgiving upon us, it's a good time to celebrate. But it is time to rededicate ourselves to our mission.

The advance of our ideals is not self-executing, but a matter of moral agency. We must act.

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