by Ron Devito
Today, I received word that a former team leader at my job suffered a brain aneurism. Fortunately, his surgery was successful and he suffered absolutely no brain damage. He gets to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family – and with his body whole. Another colleague of mine had to take time off from work because his mother died. Our lives here are fragile, not guaranteed, and at some point will end.
The past two months politically speaking have not been good – at least from my perspective on things. It’s all too easy to get depressed over things not panning out the way we hoped they would. Sometimes the narratives we construct in our minds just don’t play out, or as the Rolling Stones famously sung, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
In this political game, we tend toward hyperbole – some catrastrphic thing that will happen if we don’t get what we want. Many of us are still struggling with this – pining away over what could have been – as I write. Well…the earth is still rotating at 1,000 mph. It is still tilted on its axis at 23.5 degrees with the direction of tilt shifting with the equinoxes and the solstices. We still orbit the sun once every 365 and 1/4 days. The cycle of life continues. As long as we are above the ground, conscious, and whole – we have something to be thankful for – each day, not just on Thanksgiving.
Recent events should also teach that no person alive is indispensable. No one. Not even people who may hold superhero status to us. Our Presidential Succession Act of 1947 provides for up to 14 people who can hold the office if the President is incapacitated. Even POTUS is not indispensable. Even if he (and there has been no she in the Oval Office as of yet) dies, VPOTUS takes over in an orderly and peaceful transtion and life goes on. If both die, the succession passes down the line to secretaries of various cabinet positions. Life still goes on. The republic lives on.
Obama is a bad president, yes, but we have survived bad presidents before. We’ve survived two world wars, a depression, and a civil war – still the bloodiest war in our history. We lost as many people in three days on that field in Gettysburg as we did in the entire VietNam War – as brother fought against brother. The White House we have today was once burnt to the ground. We did not merely survive these things. We became the world’s superpower and an exceptional nation. We built a trans-continental railroad. We ushered in the world of flight. We put a man on the moon. Our iPhones, Droids, and other favorite devices were born of the Space Age and capitalism.
What we are celebrating should also give us pause. You see, the Pilgrims tried a form of socialism. They nearly perished as a society. Those who were left realized that their form of socialism was not working too well – and if something did not change, there would be no colony left by the close of the following year. So, each Pilgrim became responsible for his own plot of land and its production. Fast forward one year, and the Pilgrims thrived under the new capitalistic system. Their feast to give thanks for their success with the new system and their continued existence – born out of the fruit of their labor – was the first Thanksgiving Dinner.
When we celebrate Thanksgiving, we celebrate life, we celebrate our exceptional nation, we celebrate capitalism, and we enjoy the fruits of our labor.