America should rename the national holiday of Thanksgiving. And it’s not because we are not thankful. Most of us, anyway, appreciate the comfort that sustenance; material elements, belongings, shelter, and food, brings to our daily lives.
But there is a disconnect for some of us. And this disconnect is socially, commercially, and politically encouraged. It is the result of habitual repetition; misguided tradition.
You know, nobody wants to kill the mood of celebration. So we imagine this cartoon image of happy pilgrims and happy indians standing before a great big wooden table adorned with God’s gifts: fall leaves, pine cones, pumpkins, red and blue corn, and a very large turkey. We trace our hand on a piece of paper, in the attempt of replicating its silhouette. We glue feathers where our fingers were. We get together. We eat and drink, and eat and drink, until that disconnect; that silly apprehensive psyche of ours is numbed, year after year.
We, as humans, as people, as individuals, have a very difficult time celebrating our good fortune when we know, when we see, when we are reminded that other humans, other people, other Americans are suffering. This is how our biology, physiology, and psychology works. We need to teach each other to accept and evolve with this fact, instead of how to distract ourselves from it.
Some people get overwhelmed by guilt. It’s not my fault, it’s not my responsibility. What good is it, to brood over something I can’t change?
Don’t follow this train of thought. Healing our national psyche will take generations, and it can begin with communication. It can begin with sharing ideas and information. Sharing feelings of doubt, hurt, shame, loss and also sharing feelings of courage, care, integrity, the power and dignity that can expand just from practicing sincerity in your life.
These intangibles really can start to become bigger than one person if we put effort into sharing our thoughts, into communicating, and understanding each other. With the internet, we have a platform to the world to practice free speech, to rally, to unite people everywhere against injustice, oppression, discrimination, corporate and political corruption.
I believe we can bring democracy and justice back to the people. But we need to magnify that tinge of disconnect that too often gets buried deep in the back of the mind, that pinch of apprehension in the pit of the stomach.
We need to look at it closely and ask each other questions. We need to reconstruct what education means. We need teachers for classes about thoughts and feelings, understanding, cooperation, emotion, and care.
I want to be thankful for living in a society that encourages honesty and humility. A society that inspires and empowers every person equally. A society that fosters all children to feel safe and brave enough to express themselves creatively. But this is not the society America is today.
So, the last Thursday of November should be called.. what? How about Injustice Day? Discrimination Day? Maybe with a national holiday like that, instead of us all sitting around, eating, drinking, and watching sports, we’d be moved to action; to get people together to talk and share ideas, to organize protests, sit-ins, rallies etc., to write manifestos and send them to congress. So this is mine for today, Thanksgiving 2013:
As an American citizen, I demand that serious reparations must be made to all Native Americans and to any descendants of people brought to this country as slaves. Surely the corporate criminals responsible for the housing collapse could take a look at their funds, move things around, and free some money up. And, clearly, since we’re not going to prosecute them for criminal behavior, we could at least force them to perform 15-20 hours of community service a week, in areas where the majority of people live at or below the poverty line. Equality and democracy go hand in hand, but first we must eradicate greed and learn to care for each other.