On this eve of Thanksgiving, I’m thinking about what this day is really about. Other than eating to capacity (and beyond), we are also focused on what we’re grateful for. We celebrate with family, friends, and other loved-ones, and sometimes people we’ve just met. If that was all, it would seem plenty to be thankful for. But this year, I hope for more. This Thanksgiving, I want to focus on not only my blessings and what I have to be grateful for, but what has been lost for others, the pain some are feeling, and the difficulties we can sometimes bring on ourselves.
This holiday, for many, will be the first since losing a family member or friend. For them, their loss and pain is rekindled and can feel worse than ever. The missing chair at the dinner table, the silenced voices, it can be overwhelming and sad beyond description. Remember them, call them, or visit them this Thanksgiving. It takes precious little time, but can mean so much. It’s likely you will be one of the things they are grateful for.
For many, these past few years have taken a toll, be it psychologically, physically, and financially. Sometimes the holidays amplify the situation. Instead of quickly dismissing behaviors as rude or distant, look deeper – maybe there’s more there and you have an opportunity to make a difference. When we look out for each other, we are truly exercising what it means to be human. And when enough of us participate, how long does it take before we have someone looking out for us. Kindness in infectious – let’s spread THAT around!
What about politics? Surely we can talk about that? Of course, but let’s also understand that tensions are hight, division is deep, and even small groups can be fertile ground for planting seeds of discontent. We live in times where ideology and group-think creates an environment of contempt. Tribal loyalty creates a rather ugly brotherhood and broad-brush enemies. There is seemingly little room for polite debate, but instead only reiteration that grows louder each time it meets opposition. So be with family, be with friends, and leave the tribe behind.
Sounds good, but sometimes keeping the peace feels like letting go of deeply held convictions and ideals. And to do so with those who are in direct conflict with our principals feels particularly wrong. It seems like throwing down our swords. And therein lies the problem – we are trying to wage an ideological war with words that resemble swords. In that kind of confrontation, there is a winner and a casualty. Is it no doubt we are the way we are? And that we’re so willing to argue endlessly? And what happens when words are not enough – when we get tired of lobbing our verbal weapons with little result? When do we reach for more violent weaponry? So hang on to those convictions, but deliver them with confidence, grace, and a peaceful heart.
I will say this with the utmost of confidence – there is nothing more powerful than words. After even the most bloody wars, when the battlefields were cleared and the bodies were carried away – we were left with words. And those words, usually from cooler heads, shaped our future. So let’s avoid the middle-ground and get right to the part where we can step in each other’s shoes and hear each other’s words. And let’s share the greatest words of all, like “I love you,” and “please pass the meatballs.” What? Meatballs on Thanksgiving? Yup! No self respecting Italian would forget the meatballs!
I’m willing to bet that when we really get down to it, most of us share the same basic ideas of what the world should be and how we as human beings should be treated. That’s the biggest part of the pie (pun intended). The truth is, we spend a lot of time disagreeing on the small stuff – or the false talking points designed to knock us off track. The problem is getting to the right mental space. We have to drop whatever sword we’re waving, dissolve our tribal loyalties, and remember to be the best humans we can be. Observant, strong, and driven humans – but also compassionate humans who care for each other.
So, this year, as always, I wish you all the happiest of Thanksgivings and a more unified world filled with love and hope.