The Complexity of “Thankfulness” in Our Time

Thanksgiving is an odd holiday here in America, or has become so within my lifetime.  We no longer seem to know quite what to do with it.  In origin, it is profoundly religious.  Well… we don’t exactly inhabit a post-religious society, inasmuch as our utopian progressivism is a very active cult demanding constant and delirious sacrifices; but we certainly don’t buy into the faith of the Founders.

Then there’s the occasion’s political dimension—and we’re extremely uncomfortable with that because, you know, the so-called Pilgrims were genocidal racists waiting in the weeds for their native hosts to let their guard down a bit.  Sure enough, I noticed that one major university has scheduled something like a day of mourning (to ask forgiveness of the non-existent god?) by way of initiating its young charges into the tradition.  Who says we’ve forgotten our past!

My own religious convictions dissuade me from being thankful for circumstantial comforts.  To say that I give thanks for my family’s health would imply (it seems to me) that other families struggling with disease or injury have received less from God; and it would further imply that the Grim Reaper’s being kept from our door a little longer is a great boon.  How does a notion like that jibe with a claimed belief in the spirit’s eternal life and the beatitude of spirits who seek God’s will?

I am thankful, let me say, for the little shocks I have absorbed in retiring to a rural farm (or to a wild hill that, I hope, may become an orchard).  I made mistakes, and I took some knocks for them.  Just yesterday I literally ended up on my face in the mud.  But one is kept humble by such pats on the back, and one also learns to respect the concurrent reality of the surrounding world—the sun and the rain, the stars and the shifting winds.  One doesn’t run around like a maenad (ancient Greece’s answer to Chicken Little) because Climate Change Is Going to Kill Us All; one understands something of where food comes from, of how cycles interlace, of why certain menaces get out of hand, and so forth.  I know now, for example, that my fruit trees will go brown about the edges if the soil isn’t draining sufficiently beneath them; and I have lately read, by the way, that the slight increase of CO2 in the air has actually allowed vegetation around the globe to prosper robustly.  What does it say about your environmental bona fides when you can’t rejoice in that discovery, but must instead hurriedly throw up statistical and rhetorical sandbags until you figure out how to cast the vegetation boom as a dire omen?

I love getting up every morning with eagerness to do more work and see what surprises are in store for me, even though my “up” is sometimes more horizontal than vertical until the muscles thaw out.  I’m thankful that my daily routine no longer consists heavily of tasks which, in my heart of hearts, appear to me likely to do more harm than good to the world.  I passed too many of those years.

I thank God that such rays of light have finally found me—and that so much such light has entered my life just as my time on earth nears its final laps.  Now, as for the political dimension of the holiday…

I am not thankful that a public servant of the stature of Steve Stockman can be sentenced to ten years of prison for a dubious campaign finance violation (punished typically by single-digit months) because he blew the whistle on Eric Holder’s murderous Fast and Furious gambit.  No, I’m not thankful that a political hack appointed to the bench by the opposition party can crucify this man and then taunt him after sentencing.

I’m not thankful that other political carniceros disguised in black robes can make a mockery of democratic elections by ignoring the letter of the law to admit boxes and boxes of tardily, mysteriously surfacing paper ballots.  I’m not thankful that the notion of an independent judiciary, so crucial to the republic’s health, is now such a quaint antiquity that appointments even to the highest bench in the land have all the order, objectivity, and dignity of a rugby scrum.

Pardon my thanklessness, too, for our ever-expanding freedom to dispose of babies at ever-later stages of development.  Though a pencil and a calendar would suffice to remove any risk of perhaps murdering a tiny creature with a soul—and let us nudge the “perhaps” needle to one chance in a thousand, for the incredulous—my heart does not well with gratitude that my fellow citizens need, say, a one-in-two probability of being murderers to introduce just a bit of control into their “sex lives”.  The same people who won’t buy a soccer ball because it was stitched in a Third World sweatshop will deny a thousand times that a “lump of cells” contains the spark of life rather than sleep with their panties on three nights out of thirty.  Why should I be thankful for the plague of having their like as neighbors?

I’m certainly not grateful that “entertainers” and “celebrities” advertise their abortions as badges of glory or punch-lines in Satanic jokes; and I’m not grateful that large audiences appear to applaud them and cry for more.

Absolutely no thanks whatever for news media that advance a Tweet to front-page or top-of-the-hour urgency while utterly ignoring… oh, let’s say the influence upon California’s raging fires of tent cities raised by wandering indigents or environmental legislation that insanely inhibits forest management.  No thanks to these interning propagandists who hear in the Hogg urchin’s latest ignorant eruption of contempt for his elders the voice of the Pythian Apollo, but who have allowed the truth behind the Las Vegas mass-execution of innocents to become a cold case.

Thankful, am I, that one may no longer say “he” or “she” on many college campuses—but that any attempt to discuss the activities of former Nazi collaborator and ongoing cultural saboteur George Soros is denounced as an “anti-Semitic dog whistle”?  Did you fully process that?  I may not refer to you with a “gendered pronoun” lest your tender feelings wince and wither—but you may call me, not just an anti-Semite, but a sub-human mutt if I wish to denounce the man who almost bought off my gubernatorial election for an overt socialist.

Oh, and let me give thanks that a Soros may legally wade into our election process to the tune of tens of millions, but a Stockman or a Dinesh D’Souza does hard time for perhaps bending the rules by a thousand or two.  On second thought… no thanks.

And more ingratitude, I fear, for the “educated” young whose ears are protected from “offensive” exchanges, and who therefore flock to support Bernie because he’s cool, Octavio-Cortez because she’s cute, and any socialist because… well, social media are the most important thing in life.

A quick prayer of no-thanks for the patronizing system that forces me to subscribe to insurance I don’t want in my declining years (but, remember, I’m only a dog that must be forced to visit the vet) and then hits me with a bill for the unwanted coverage—proceeds of which go to subsidizing illegal residents in hopes of buying their illegal votes.

I could turn the cranberry sauce into a block of ice with the full blast of thanklessness in my heart.  It is all directed, however, toward the butchers of a free society that allowed our forefathers to fail, to learn, and to grow.  As a national holiday, Thanksgiving has become for me more sterile and bitter than for those who claim to feel the pain of the Iroquois.  Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that America’s natives preferred a starving, freezing death on their depleted hunting grounds to accepting handouts from the Great White Father.  I wonder how they would have liked the fully overhauled USA?

Author: nilnoviblog

I hold a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (Latin/Greek) but have not navigated academe very successfully for the past thirty years. This is owed partly to my non-PC place of origin (Texas), but probably more to my conviction--along with the ancients--that human nature is immutable, and my further conviction--along with Stoics and true Christians-- that we have a natural calling to surmount our nature. Or maybe I just don't play office politics well. I'm much looking forward to impending retirement, when I can tend to my orchards and perhaps market the secrets of Dead Ball hitting that I've excavated. No, there's nothing new (nil novi) under the sun... but what a huge amount has been forgotten, in baseball and elsewhere!

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