Whether it's called Turkey Day, Turkey Murder Day, A Day of Celebration for the White Man's Extortion of the Native People of North America or the Day Before you Lose your Mind in the Commercialization of Christmas there is no Holiday that has, perhaps, been bastardized more than Thanksgiving or, more specifically, Thanksgiving Day. Originally this was a day to give thanks for the Harvest, and the preceding year. Back in the days when life expectancy was measured in months rather than years, giving thanks for surviving the turmoil and toil of a previous year didn't seem so quaint. There's also the fact that, in these modern times, we aren't as thankful for what we've accomplished as we (the royal we) were in previous generations.
Certainly, our ruling class is not thankful. Neither the President nor most elected officials show true gratitude for being elected to do the job they do. And this is not just at the Federal level either. Increasingly our public servants, at all levels, view themselves as a team of intellectual betters whose primary role is to correct the mistakes and oversights made by the great unwashed. Do you really, in your heart of hearts, think that State Senator Dan Patrick is "thankful" that he has been re-elected to the State Senate given that he truly believes that he and his comrades are better qualified to handle the selection process for the US Senate than are you? Do you believe that President Obama is "thankful" when he repeatedly states that the reason you disagree with him is that you're too dense to understand the issues?
As a society we've lost what it means to be truly thankful. There was a time when companies were "thankful" for your business. Today it's viewed as an entitlement by the biggest of corporations. Take the Houston Chronicle as a local example. They are not "thankful" that a shrinking portion of the citizenry counts on them for the news of the day, they view the residents of Houston as people who need firm guidance and a strong hand. That they're losing market share is a result of your ignorance, not of their incompetence. Retail giants like JC Penny's and Sears are not, nor have they been for a long time, "thankful" that (a few) people still shop there, they believed that their retail dominance was assured. Most, not all, of the Houston Texans are not "thankful" that fans still shell out thousands of dollars to see a sub-par product. In many cases they are adversarial to their customers.
None of this is due to the breakdown of the family unit or a fleeing from God or anything else other than our current societal belief that we "deserve" what we have. To be "thankful" for the blessings we have received is to have to admit that, in many cases, our sheer brilliance wasn't the sole reason for our attainment. For a society that's now grown up on a diet of instant gratification and spare the (figurative) rod discipline the very concept of "thankful" becomes harder and harder to digest. If gratitude is a muscle then as a society we're suffering from atrophy due to disuse. Instead of being "thankful" that they live in a society that offers a safety net recipients of entitlements become angry when the system fails to produce. It's even to the point that known stealing from society's largesse is not viewed negatively but as a failure of the system.
Regardless of where the failure lies, it's up to all of us to recalibrate our moral compasses and realize that being "thankful" is not a sign of weakness but of strength and intelligence. And that doesn't mean that you have to give thanks to God or Allah or anyone else. Being "thankful" is not a monopoly owned by our religious institutions. You can be thankful to karma for smiling down on you, or the Universe for not rolling craps on your turn. Being "thankful" just means that you have the emotional intelligence to realize that, while hard work can create your own luck, there are still many different factors out there which kept you from losing it all. For me, I give thanks to my God and Savior, whom I believe in strongly and deeply. Your mileage may vary but that doesn't mean that losing the ability to give thanks is any less dire.
Once the ability to be "thankful" is gone, so are the remaining underpinnings of society. Without thanks there is no respect, without respect, no rule of law and without the rule of law you have strongman tactics which (given the odds) are not going to work out well for the majority, the minority or pretty much anyone who might find themselves without the biggest gun. It would be nice if our leaders remember this, but it's probably more important that the citizenry remember it first. Because, once we do, then we can start to agree on those elected officials who don't, and we can either find ways to make them remember or vote in people who do.
So, this Thanksgiving I encourage you to take a quiet moment of reflection and think hard about what you are truly "thankful" for. For me, I'm "thankful" for my wife, my family, my job, my health, my God, the city in which I live, the ability to travel and the happenstance that occurred over the years which allows me to sit here in the evening and write this blog, to schedule it for publication the next day and not be arrested for it.
I'm also "thankful" to my handful of dedicated readers over the years. You've followed my ebbs and flows, political ramblings, blog changes, boredom, rants, raves and shoddy writing and grammar far longer than I could ever reasonably expect. Through it all I have made many friends, and some not so friends, of whom I'm thankful for as well. This last year has been one of great change and with change comes opportunity.
For all of that I am "thankful".
Happy Thanksgiving all. Now pass the turkey and dressing.