Feeling (Sort of) Thankful

I am inclined to think that an annual holiday that encourages everyone to be grateful for the good things in their lives is a good idea.

I know there are far too many people who don’t have much of anything to be thankful for, and I am not suggesting that they should be encouraged to be grateful by, much less to, the people who are profiting from their misery.

But in general, taking a little time to realize that there are positive things happening in your life can make it easier to deal with the crap.

It might be better if we held this celebration in the US at a time that didn’t conflict with the buy everything surge that passes for the Christmas holidays. It was more than a little disconcerting to open my email this morning and see almost nothing but solicitations to buy things.

I am personally offended by the entire concept of Black Friday. That we can’t have celebrations about something other than buying shit is a sad commentary on what kind of world we’ve made.

And we should certainly dispense with the myth tying Thanksgiving to the Pilgrims and the indigenous people who helped them survive. I mean, I’m sure they did give some thanks in company with each other, but the history that came afterwards destroyed all that.

A better back story would be Abraham Lincoln’s proclamations of a Thanksgiving during the Civil War, which encouraged people to be grateful for defeating those who were trying to destroy our democracy so that they could maintain both slavery and power in the hands of the wealthy.

I was taught the Lost Cause nonsense in school, fortunately tempered by my parents, who knew better. But we really have to work at getting the true history out there.

Rebels have so much glamor, especially failed ones. I liked Firefly, too. But that’s not what happened here.

The United States, even at its best, is a flawed country. I was also taught American exceptionalism in school, and that’s an even harder myth to undermine.

What might make us truly exceptional would be the recognition of our history of slavery and genocide and positive change growing from that recognition.

Instead, we’re getting a resurgence of white supremacy, which definitely flies in the face of what Lincoln was trying to do when he established Thanksgiving.

I’m inclined to promote thanksgiving days that are not particularly about one’s country or patriotism, but instead focus on the personal and the community.

So I am thankful today for the good food we have from our farmer’s market, and for the people who work hard to grow and make that food.

I am thankful for those here in Oakland working to make this a better place to live.

I am thankful that I have found love late in life and am living with a person who shares my values and balances my life.

I am grateful for friends and family and the many people I love around the world. (I wish more of you lived closer.)

In general, I am grateful to be alive and able to experience this world in all its beauties and disasters. And very damn grateful for those working to keep the beauty and fix the disasters so that those who come after us will also have something to be thankful for.

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