Thanksgiving Message of Hope and Challenge

We have a four-day break from routine, time away from the bustle. This post suggests how to restore yourself and center your commitment to meeting the challenges ahead. If not you, who? If not now, when?

Let’s face it, it has been a very weird year. We endure daily assaults on our sensibilities and our values. Our fears are stoked by threats of nuclear conflict and the looming sense that whatever vestiges of democracy we have ever had are deeply in peril. It has been tough. But the truth is that our society has for a very long time been driven by forces that operate beneath the surface. Our hubris and greed have only now become explicit with Donald Trump and his America First doctrine.

Capitalism, colonialism, racism, and sexism are a four-headed beast that has been at the heart of America for centuries. We like to think of ourselves as the greatest country in the world, the beacon of freedom and democracy, and the promoters of justice at home and abroad. But this is simply not an accurate understanding of a nation borne of slavery, formed through genocide and the destruction of the Native people and their culture, and an economy driven by the exploitation of other nations and their people working for pennies an hour. Without compensation, women have held together our families, raised our children, cooked our meals, and mended our clothes. While African Americans are better off now than during slavery or Jim Crow, while women have achieved a degree of liberation, and in parts of the country Native American culture is increasingly viewed as a just alternative to capitalism, people of color and women are far from achieving true liberation, and we continue to dominate and oppress internationally to a shameless degree.

But none of this is new, it is just more brazen, more overt, and more explicitly couched in the doctrine of America First. Whether South Korean victims of a nuclear conflict, Puerto Ricans without power (electrical, economic or political), or any developing nation anywhere, they are just resources feeding our greed and self-absorption. We will never solve anything here in America until we face this truth. We are greedy and we dominate because we like our things and our comfort more than we value justice and other people’s joy and liberation.

Trump is helping us because whether it is his self-absorbed tweets or his overtly offensive healthcare, tax, and budget policies, he is tearing away the curtain on that greed and wrapping it in the flag with pride. This is our chance to begin to peek beneath that flag and reflect upon our history and our present and to say #nomore. And here is the hard part: we all need to achieve a deep understanding of the dynamics of capitalism, sexism, racism, and colonialism and learn how to articulate it to others. We need to not just accept, but to embrace that America First has always been our slogan but has no place in a world community that needs to work together to be sustainable and just. We need to value humility, cooperation, and compassion more than aggression, greed, and manipulation.

We have our work cut out for us, as we live in a country where alt-facts and fake news obscure debate and our culture dons a patriotic prism that refracts reality to where so many still believe we are the best and deserve to be first.

So, as many of us assemble around tables to give thanks, share food, and swap tales, save some time for reflection. If you agree with much of the perspective shared today, what can you do over the coming year(s) to be honestly reflective and then to devote a proportion of your time to deepening and sharing your perspective? And what does it mean for you and for us as a people, if we who understand are not willing to do what needs to be done to share that understanding and change our culture from me-first to we-together? It is the only way the world achieves a truly sustainable justice. And this is what we have to be thankful for today: the reality that we have power to start a march toward justice if we are truly willing to accept who we have been, who we are now, and commit to becoming something more, something better.

Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your day with friends and family, and return to the fray tomorrow. There is much to be done. Roxanne and I are very grateful that we are all in this together.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

Jeff Daniels tells this tale pretty convincingly in just four minutes:

Categories: Economic Justice, Community & Economic Development, Social & Racial Justice & Immigration Reform

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7 replies

  1. Thank you, Paul. Words to reflect on, and act upon!

  2. Paul and Roxanne. Thanks for that and offering the Daniels video. My only add is that there is no arguable evidence murkuh was ever the greatest. What does that even look like? It goes way back to when some scholarly types determined with the consent of their peers that man was the wisest animal to ever have existed. Homo sapiens sapiens, wise, wise human. Only one out of 6-8 million co-evolving species to be wise, to possess sentience (feelings). The only self-proclaimed, self-affirmed, totally dictatorial and subjective rationalization to ever be given a pass from the hard and cold eye of fact, reason, evidence and logic. When the original syllogism is specious, all that follows is necessarily suspect.

    The mental schizophrenia this black hole of denial has created has compelled mankind to justify insanity as the preferred manner and method of justification for its hallowed existence.

    The big four you have unmasked are ubiquitously intent in destroying all true evidence of this con job – Nature and un-compromised science are under seige as the Sixth Extinction is underway, now at 1000x the intensity of natural change quite evident less than a millenia ago.

    And our response is to eat murdered turkey and travel far in fossil-burning polluters to get there. For once this celebration will actually fill the house it is observed in, and we can assuage our guilt by reassuring each other we are doing better, and with a few minor tweaks here and there the Elysian Fields will bloom once more.

    41 years ago today I ate my final bite of murdered flesh. Carter’s election had prompted me to stop being the problem and start being the solution. For many years I have not celebrated any holiday, finding them contra to ethics and logic. Today I walked more than a mile for a cup of coffee. At the world’s largest coffee retailer I cannot recycle everything I used to drink it, so I will carry all back to the recycle bins at the house. And this is but one of thousands of small acts I must perform daily to even lessen my own irresponsibility toward at least breaking even with my time spent on this lovely little rock spinning in some corner of the the almost empty void. I am so far behind I cannot even imagine where the zero sum lies.

    But I will persist until I drop, not because I am vainglorious, but because I am truly grateful for the time given me to make the effort.

    Mick Nickel

  3. Really? All those words on the stripes in the flag graphic? Comparing the US with who? It can’t imagine it is all countries in the world. It dilutes and undermines a message when there are inaccuracies, including in graphics.

    • The point of the graphic is that whereas many crow about the US first in everything, best country in the world, we are, in fact, very far from the top in most social / justice indicators. I guess folks can disagree; I thought the image worked very well, especially with the Jeff Daniels video. I am not sure how you can site ‘inaccuracies’ in the flag image as it is not designed to be viewed as a footnoted piece, but an overall impression.

  4. I am very sure that this is the case. Even Sig who is running against a very weak candidate, has cited that her campaign has been going for months and would have to adjust to RCV. Any excuse for inaction and reform seems to work for that group.

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