November 21, 2016

A Thanksgiving Story for our Times.


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“For us in these times, to even have hope is too abstract, too detached, too spectatorial. Instead we must be a hope, a participant and a force for good as we face this catastrophe.” ~ Cornel West


Once upon a time (last week), the people of a great and vast nation elected a billionaire TV star as their government leader.

Nothing has changed, yet everything has.

Is it worse than we think, or should we give the guy a chance?

Reactions are as unique and diverse as our personalities, and largely dependent on our demographics. Lots of old white people are afraid of losing their “freedom”—in other words, their long-held privilege. A multitude of privileges, really, which the brown/POC have never known.

On the right, Rush Limbaugh:

“You’ve heard of the word indefatigable? That’s Trump. He’s 70 years old, gets up at five in the morning, he sleeps four hours a night, and he doesn’t stop. Donald Trump has never smoked and he has never consumed adult beverages.”

On the left, Keith Olbermann:

“All we are saying is, give fascism a chance, ‘Who knows, it might not be as bad as we think. It might not be a bottomless pit.’”


According to the New York Times (the “failing” publication Mr. Trump so despises and bullies via Twitter), 85 percent of the land area of the United States of America is “Trump’s America,” versus just 15 percent of the coastal regions and urban centers which make up “Clinton’s America.” However, Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote by over a million at last count. Regardless, rural voting areas pushed Trump over the top and he won the 270 electoral votes necessary—in theory, at least.

The official Electoral College vote is on December 19th. There is a movement to persuade electoral college votes in each state to “vote their conscience,” or in other words to not vote for Donald Trump.

It isn’t probable, but it is possible.

In this case, it would be the lesser of two evils. Hillary Clinton may be a corrupt, establishment politician, but at least she is experienced in international and domestic affairs. Plus, she is not full of the hatred and bile of Trump, his cabinet and his die-hard fans.

People are either happy, relieved and triumphant (if they voted for Trump); complacent, curious and concerned (if they did not vote for Trump and are white and middle-class or wealthy); or fearful, devastated and confused (if they did not vote for Trump and are not white, not male, not Christian, not straight).

And here we are in mid-November, the holiday season upon us. In the middle of the American Civil War in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November. Of course, the first Thanksgiving feast had been celebrated 242 years earlier by the Pilgrims and Native Americans after the immigrants’ inaugural harvest in the New World.

Naturally, the subsequent genocide of Native Americans by whites led to a souring of the original feelings of community celebration. University of Texas professor Robert Jensen says,

“One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.”

He certainly has a point.

Nonetheless, Thanksgiving is a time to come together with family and friends, to bask in gratitude, to feast, to celebrate life and love. This year’s political drama is taking its toll on families divided by liberal and conservative belief systems. Many will not come together at the dinner table due to these ideological differences, and those who do will probably want to avoid the subject altogether, if possible.

What if, despite feeling fearful, devastated, confused, depressed or anxious about the present and the future, we chose to sit down at the table together, anyway—black, white, red and yellow?

What if we chose to make peace?

What if we looked and saw the fear underneath the hate?

What if we chose to celebrate?

What if we chose to open our hearts and minds to other points of view, to new horizons, to gratitude?

May the spirit of thanksgiving dwell in all of our hearts, today and every day.

There is so much to be grateful for, and we are here on Earth for a purpose.

“I won’t let it slide if a friend makes degrading comments about a minority or women. Even if it’s over Thanksgiving dinner, I’ll push back and say something like: “Come on! You really think that?!” ~ Nicholas Kristof, A 12-Step Program for Responding to President-Elect Trump 


Author: Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Image: Meg Couch/Twitter

Editor: Toby Israel


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