I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. As a kid, it was the getting together with our neighbors and whatever relatives happened by to share good food and games with people we loved; relaxing in an indulgent way that was too-often absent most of the year. As I’ve grown older, my appreciation has only grown.
As a nation, we are blessed in many ways, but like many who are fortunate, we fail to fully appreciate it most of the time. Thanksgiving offers a day for intentionality; deliberately taking stock of where we are, and recognizing the fortunate position in which we find ourselves.
With few exceptions, in you live in the US you are privileged. For many of us, Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear—are taken for granted as givens. For most people in the world, they are not. Even in the US, we are not where we should be. Despite the passage of 150 years since the Civil War, we fail to live up to the aspirations of the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal. Events in almost any city in this country show a stark division in how young black men are treated, and older ones, too, in comparison to their Caucasian counterparts. Women, too, remain disadvantaged nearly a century after universal suffrage removed the explicit gender bias of our Constitution. We forget our history as we are too-ready to turn our backs, and the figurative back of our hand, on newer arrivals.
We are a country of great richness, a country whose greatest strengths lie in its great diversity—diversity of people, of opinions, of approaches to solving problems great and small. But we are a country divided more and more along the lines of class and privilege. As we sit down with friends and loved ones today, let’s reflect on how this day presents our better selves to ourselves and the world. As we return to our everyday lives tomorrow, let’s commit to working to be the change in ourselves we want to see in our communities: to be kinder, more generous not only with our cash, but with our compassion. And let’s work like hell to leave the world better for our children and their children than it is today.