On gratitude

Valley Voice

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Thanksgiving brings a bundle of sentiment and nerves. We are told that this is a time to put the bygones aside and our troubles in perspective, and to give thanks that we have friends and family and a lot to eat.
But when Thanksgiving follows an election, things can get complicated and inconsistent. We ought to remember that after the winners and losers are sent to their corners, we are left with us.
A Biblical verse ( Luke 18:11) tells of the Pharisee who prayed with himself: “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are.”
Centuries later, an Atlanta woman, Kristina Haynes, tells the New York Times of her hopes after the 2020 presidential election, that “we find humanity again, that we have a way to be kind to one another, and have empathy…”
And here we are again. The truculence and collision of another election is mostly behind us, and the threat of covid has at least leveled off. As this year trails down, I suspect most of us remain grateful. We take stock of what is meaningful in our lives – the good and the bad, in hopes that the good is winning.
We underscore this hope in the wake of more disease and disaster, natural and man-made. Prayers continue for victims ‒ of war and greed, of drought and famine, of horrid storms, of poverty, intolerance and neglect.
Why do we go on? That we are thankful at all is a wonder. And yet there are clues:
We can no longer give thanks that we don’t suffer the threat of disease or terrorists, or know what war is like, or that fear and ignorance are for people in other places. But we can still hope that our nation emerges from tragedy and grief with greater awareness of the dark that threatens our society.
We give thanks that sirens in our town are yet a rare event.
That we have so many benefits − by way of television and computers and libraries − of the cities, and that each day our public employees and private individuals give meaning to the term “heroism”.
That we can care about what happens to the elders next door, and practice private charities, especially this season and generally year ‘round.
That we no longer worry about getting bigger and richer, having seen what an obsession with bigness and richness has done to other people and communities.
That we know our car mechanic and our letter carrier, our school teachers, and our local officials, and we don’t hesitate to talk it over with them when things seem out of hand, and that we extend our thanks when things seem to be going well – and good for them.
That we still believe the Commandments and the Constitution, and that democratic politics is still a source of hope and possibility.
That our schools and colleges remain solid institutions, and we remain determined to help them.
That our community holds many people who believe that no day is dismal, and that a dull sky is as plausible as any other, and who embrace each morning with the brightness and suddenness of a hyacinth.
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While we are grateful, we must resist the temptation to give thanks that we are not as others.
That we do not pull into a little Midwest cocoon, trying to preserve what is best while ignoring the misery and pain in other places.
That we confront political and business corruption, rather than ignore it, because it really is our concern.
In this community we may give thanks for what we have and for what we would like to be, and then let’s add another prayer:
Of thanks that we know life is not good for many in the world; that we are diminished when savagery strikes the innocent wherever they are; that we fear for all refugees of war and despotism; that we can still help when storms rage or disease strikes, or when people in other lands fear for their lives and their future; and a prayer of thanks that we know we are not truly alone out here on a Kansas island.
We give thanks that we can still care and not only for those around us. And that we strive not to be as the Pharisees. Gratitude becomes us. Gratitude rooted

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