Meditation on Thanksgiving

Author: Gary Hart

Though we in the United States set aside a day each year to give thanks for our earliest colonialists and mythically for the Native people who purportedly befriended them as the first winter arrived, we have reason to give thanks for much more than that somewhat imagined event and for much longer than one day.

Despite the human devastation of the plague-like pandemic, some of which at least that could have been ameliorated, and the human economic and social misery it has brought, things could always be worse.  No new recent wars, vaccines finally on the way, and most of all a new president and administration dedicated to the traditional principles America struggles to uphold.

The brightest and best news in a quadrennium is this election, though it will be contested by the loser as long as he lives.  We have every reason to expect the United States will return to the family of democracies, restore its treaty commitments, and behave as a neighbor and friend to all who welcome our friendship.

A stunning symbol of all this is the appointment of John Kerry to represent American leadership on the climate change global stage.  Credit must be given to the President-elect and those immediately around him for this bold step that makes the defeated President’s childish refusal to recognize the overwhelming scientific proof of climate damage all the more petty.

Together with a new dedication to prevent the warming of the planet we can add the restoration of the system to anticipate and quarantine future pandemics that was deconstructed by the departing President, an effort to restore civility to politics, if the Senate majority leader will permit it, more even-handed mainstream federal judges, an end to border cruelty, especially to children, renewed respect for military and intelligence professionals, and thoughtful oval office speeches replacing raucous campaign rallies.

The press will receive the First Amendment respect it must earn.  And right-wing vigilantes will not be called “nice people.”  And eventually the nightly stream of angry tweets from Mar-a-Lago will bore even the last of the faithful.

Most important, as vaccine production and distribution hurdles are overcome, next Spring and Summer will see deaths decline and everyday life, work, and pleasure beginning to be restored.  That will deserve our greatest thanks.  That should be celebrated with a White House dinner for a cross section of brave, surviving health care workers who risked, and too often sacrificed, their lives to treat and heroically save virus victims.

Even as we give thanks for the survivors of this plague, we must mourn with the relatives and friends of the several hundreds of thousands of victims who did not survive.  My parents, both of whom lost friends and relatives to the 1919 flu epidemic, never forgot them.

So, to all of you, and our friends Elizabeth in Canada and Lorenzo in England, and many others, thank you for caring with us for decency, human respect, and most of all democracy itself.

I personally am more thankful than I can say for my friend and former Senate colleague Joe Biden for not giving up, for continuing to struggle to bring this nation back to its highest and best values, and as a human being for embracing yet overcoming the terrible tragedies and grief which he has suffered.

At the same time, I must recall the national grief and tragedy of Thanksgiving weekend 57 years ago.

Through your lifelong experience of grief and tragedy, help bring us back together, President Joe.  We will all give thanks.

8 Responses to “Meditation on Thanksgiving”

  1. Ed Goldstick Says:

    Thank you, Gary, for this subtle while brutally honest yet still hopeful snapshot of our historical circumstances… or might I say our collective “predicament”. I find unabridged optimism difficult these days and am as tempted by resignation as anyone, but the very fact that the nation has largely mobilized simultaneously at local levels against a variety of ills is a source of cautious encouragement. The nasty forces of exclusion and division that have always existed in the background but are again at the forefront will not dissipate instantly any more than the wide distribution of vaccines will eliminate this novel virus overnight; in fact, the challenges that we face as a society are more comparable to those that the world faces with climate change.

    So yes, we have much for which to be thankful, but I will frankly not be prepared to celebrate until three weeks into the new year… and even then, it will be just a step or two back from the precipice. I trust that Joe Biden and his team recognize this very well, and my greater hope is that one year from now we will be able to celebrate a year of movement in a better direction.

  2. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    What a special article! I am grateful indeed for your kind reference. As I said in my previous comments , we need humour. But here we have something needed more than ever. Humility. it is that which under the current President, we have, above all, seen a gap so great. Humility is about listening and looking at others and learning. American individual qualities, rather than national, have often placed these aspects at the front, even as leaders have not. But, under the outgoing President, these were turned into a truly grotesque sight.

    Those of us, like me, with in laws, in the US, a wife from there once,welcome in the family of America, part of that family, welcome you back, as a very senior member of the world family.

    It is right that here, one, senior in years, and seasoned in wisdom, represent this. As America is appreciated for what it gives, at its best,does as it should, so too, this is true, of the author of this article, the host of this forum. Just like an elder, member of a family being close again both physically and emotionally, after restrictions can ease in months ahead, so too America shall, return to play its part, politically, and constructively.

    The appointment of an elder statesman, by one, Kerry, picked by Biden, is marvellous. But it is not as poignant as the regular polemic and brilliant commitment, in writing, thinking, by our Senator here on this site. when the achievements are assessed of a man of great achievement, the contributions on a little website, must count as most special, in its being less known widely, and much appreciated, by the most active here.

  3. Brian C McCarthy Says:

    Senator,

    Thank you for your insightful and optimistic blogs which have helped many of us through a trying past four years. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and a happy birthday to you as well!

    Cheers!
    BCM

  4. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    On the occasion of the American Thanksgiving holiday, it has been hard over the years not to think of that week, 57 years ago … 57!? … whoa! But, this year, I actually didn’t think of it until someone reminded me it was coming. Which is to say that I’ve finally gotten the tragedy of it and its aftermath out of my system.

    I’m thankful beyond any words for president-elect Biden. While he’ll always be Senator Biden to me, I might just get used to the idea of calling him president by the time his second term rolls around. 🙂

    And, of course, I’m forever thankful for finding this place and for you, Senator Hart and for all friends here. You have all made this a veritable place of refuge over the last four years. So looking forward to having great debates and enlightening discussion through the Biden years!

  5. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    Lovely piece Elizabeth!

  6. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Thank-you Lorenzo, my friend – I’m just happier than a pig in mud these days and can’t for the life of me wipe the smile off my face since the fine result of the most free, fair and secure US presidential election, ever! And, I mean that sincerely, I’m not trying to be facetious, here. 🙂

    There is going to be so much of substance to discuss in the new year!

  7. H Patrick Pritchard Says:

    There are certainly things to be thankful for during this holiday seasons. There is a slight glimmer of hope that this ship of state may see a shift in course for the better. However, my hopes are haunted by the damage which continues to be perpetuated on millions of Americans who suffer the most from the pandemic and power politics. You see….

    There really is two Americas…..one for the wealthy and another for the non-wealthy. Which America do most people experience? The answer is self-evident to each of us. The wealthy have access to Congressional power and influence bought and paid for in multiple ways and rewarded with generous tax cuts, privileges and benefits. Financial indicators support a notion this group of Americans are not in peril.

    The story is different for the non-wealthy. A 6.7% unemployment rate is an understatement of the non-wealthy financial condition. It does not reflect the peril of those who have voluntarily dropped out of the workforce for lack of job opportunities, forced to work at minimum wage part-time employment or temporary employment, and health problems related to Covid-19. The numbers are reflected in the increased reliance on food banks for food necessities, threats of or actual evictions from rentals or mortgage foreclosures, bankruptcies, and substantial increases in the number of people forced on to the poverty rolls.

    Christmas will come to the wealthy. For many of the non-wealthy Christmas will come in the form of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch who will aid in stealing their capability to provide the necessities of life to loved ones thanks to Mitch McConnell and a Republican Senate that cannot see beyond their wealth and power and privilege!
    There failure to provide stimulus checks to those who have suffered the most by the pandemic and privileged politics when there still remains $600 billion dollars in the previously passed CARES Act borders on the criminal and smells of inhumanity!

  8. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Patrick,

    It really is hard to believe that McConnell et al. care so little about the American people who are suffering financially that they find it hard to pass a small stimulus package which doesn’t even include cheques sent to those most in need. But, he did say, didn’t he, “let the states go bankrupt” so we shouldn’t be too suprised by his uncaring non-action.

    Harder to believe still is how two Retrumplicans in Georgia can possibly win senate seats given this brazen Retrumplican indifference …

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