Forgotten Thanksgiving Essay

In looking through my slush pile, I found this. I don’t remember why I did not complete and publish at the time but feel a sense to do so today. This is not political commentary, I don’t go there, simply reflections on our inability to be still, hear, and consider someone other than ourselves.

On this eve of giving thanks, can we also remember the basics of why we bother coming together? Despite the miles we drive, the business or schoolwork we put on hold, the effort we put forth to plan and prepare the menu, we do all of this juggling because we genuinely want to be with ‘our people’. When we gather under one roof, at one table, laughing, eating, and drinking, we’re sharing and exchanging pieces of ourselves that build upon the memories of our lifetimes.

It is in this fellowship we bond and become equals in the moment. Undoubtedly, we gravitate toward those who elevate and accept us as we are. Of course we do, it is within these tribes where we find great comfort and peace. But there may come a time when we may need to rely on someone who: may not look like us, may not speak our language, may have differing local or global views, may not love like us, or may celebrate differently. What then? If we first see others as thinkingfeelinghuman, before judging their differences, we may recognize a common bond. In my opinion, civility leads to mutual respect leading to caring and understanding leading to cooperation.

I am not naive. We are not all equal in the sense that we are carbon copy replicas of our neighbors. There will always be chasms between groups, this is life. But if we approach these divides with respect (for others) and accountability (for ourselves) perhaps our differences may be less: toxic, distasteful, insurmountable, unacceptable. Imagine if we, as adults, were to act as our mamas raised us: to be kind to others, to be inclusive, wait your turn, don’t cheat, don’t steal, and do not lie (unless the truth will hurt someone’s feelings then a little white lie won’t hurt), always do your best, and be proud of who your are and from where you came. My mama asked for all of this when she demanded ‘common decency and respect’.

On this eve of giving thanks, this is where my heart is. I am a tiny, single piece of humanity’s global image. I am grateful for the love and security my family and friends provide me. Coupled with the good choices I try to make every day, my world remains relatively balanced. Zooming out, thinking about the entire scope of the puzzle, is it so very difficult to imagine each piece operating with the same basic manners?

Come on America, let’s reassemble, make good choices, and make your mamas proud!

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