Be a positive force for better tomorrow
Each day we are bombarded with news that details the trials and tribulations of the hour: tragedies at public events, COVID-19 infections and deaths, political polarization and stagnation, discord in our educational institutions and the ongoing destruction of our environment to name a few.
Good grief; how can we celebrate Thanksgiving in such disturbing times?
When we think of the origin of Thanksgiving, we often picture a peaceful celebration attended by Native Americans and the new immigrants called pilgrims. A more current image that comes to our mind is grandmother serving a big roasted turkey to her family that smiles sitting around the handsomely decorated dinner table.
I hardly believe that either of those pictures is very realistic.
I am sure that some hunters of the Indian tribe had a bit of reservation about sharing their winterâs supply of food with foreign invaders, and I know not all the females looked kindly upon being asked to stand over hot outdoor fires to cook beans for the newcomers to their homeland. Nor do I think the pilgrim fathers completely trusted what they saw as savages mingled with their wives and children around a common table. There were probably sharp words and actions among both groups as such an event was contemplated and held.
As for that calm, peaceful Thanksgiving at Grandmaâs, there are frequently children who misbehave at the worst time, food that is burned or undercooked, family misunderstandings that have simmered in the best of families and weather that rarely accommodates travel.
Nothing surprising in these descriptions.
New ideas and practices are most often seen from varying perspectives by people with different traditions and backgrounds. So, todayâs discord is nothing new in a free society. And when we donât agree, in our democracy we feel compelled to voice our objections and our opinions. That is what a democracy is all about: the peaceful and organized way of working out differences in order to come up with a consensus that serves the most citizens.
Disagreements and conflict are often riding just below the surface of our pubic behavior and discourse. We, like the pilgrims and ourÂ own families, wish to put on the happy face. It takes something startling to ignite a recognition that all is not right in our society.
The disharmony we are witnessing now has been developing over many years. We have now had enough social sparks to ignite the hidden racial and ethnic tensions, economic conflicts, huge and unworkable health issues and gender complexities that exist. Our expanding and connected world is spurred on by new technologies that sometimes make our old ways of working inadequate to serve us well.
So, what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving of unrest?
I am thankful that ills of our society are being recognized and addressed in a public and, hopefully, productive manner that we canât avoid any longer manner.
I am thankful I live in a country that is strong internationally and still trying to practice and promote democracy around the world.
I am thankful we have a history of working out our problems once they are acknowledged, no matter how ugly or awful the process might become.
If we lived in a society under a government that was controlled by an autocrat, I could not have the dreams of sustaining the strongest country in the world as it attempts to serve a diverse and expanding citizenry. We can have hope that grows out of our history. We will address not only the universal and ever-present problems of life but can take on never before heard of explorations that demand reorganizing new systems and values.
It will be a constant battle to save this planet from an environmental tragedy while ensuring freedom and justice for all. Additionally, we will need to be vigilant in our attempt to conquer the viruses of the future and destroy the tools of destruction that will be developed.
I am thankful that, just as those first observers of Thanksgiving Day, I can dream of a world that is peaceful and productive for our children and set to work to try to do what I can to be a positive force for that better tomorrow.