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Being thankful: A cure for ‘cancer of the soul’

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we are left with the remnants of turkey and “Black Friday,” among other things.

I have to admit that this has never been my favorite holiday. We teach the children about the pilgrims and the Indians, but do we explain to them about the consequences of that symbolic meal to such a proud race of people?

And this holiday doesn’t work well for the turkeys, either. Those of you who have viewed Sarah Palin’s now famous “faux pax” video of her pardoning turkeys and then finishing her interview  in front of an operating turkey-killing machine of some sort know what I mean. The level of hypocrisy in the “traditional” celebration of this day is too much for me!

Why don’t we just use this day as a day of true gratitude for what we have around us? Wouldn’t that be a more authentic way to celebrate Thanksgiving Day?

Yes, we can thank the pilgrims for being there — and the Indians for their many sacrifices — and rejoice in the settling of our country, but shouldn’t we also focus on what we have today?

Not everything is wonderful, I realize, but we have a lot that is right. Why don’t we celebrate those things? Wouldn’t that provide a better atmosphere for healing this great country that has been so torn apart by recent politics?

I hear it said that fault for all this divisiveness falls on the politicians, as well as those “other guys” who do not agree with us. I have to label this as more hypocrisy. I argue that politicians really can’t do anything we don’t let them do, but we do have to speak with one voice. That does not mean we all have to agree on the same outcome, but it does mean we have to embrace cooperation and bipartisanship and compromise. The same thing is true for the media — they respond to ratings. If we refuse, as a group, to listen to the news channels and “talking heads” who promote doom and gloom and hostility, they will change. We do not need people with their own private agendas telling us how to think — that hurts our country more than anything else.

Imagine what would happen if everyone sat down the night before Thanksgiving Day and turned off their TVs, radio programs and computers, and just thought quietly about what they have to be grateful for. Then they could think about what things need to be changed, and how to do that without causing harm. They could do that for the country, as well as for the world, and their own family.

Too much time with no electronics?  Maybe, but I think less electronics now and then can be a good thing. We are just talking about one evening here, not all day every day. (More than once a year would probably be a really good idea for this exercise, but it is just an option).

Those who enjoy this quiet time could expand their thinking to what they really like. What do they really believe? What if they are wrong — what are the consequences of a bad decision? How would they remake their world?

The list of worthwhile musings is long, but it is incomplete if it does not include some question about how to help someone else who is in need. A recognition that the world is not all about you is handy if you reach this point, as is the question “Who is thankful for me tonight?”

If the answer is “no one,” or “I don’t know,” then you may want to spend more time thinking about other people than you do of yourself on this evening. One thing I know for sure — whether you spend one evening a year or one evening a month or a week doing this, it will eventually cure you of “cancer of the soul,” which could turn out to be the biggest killer on our planet these days.

This story was posted on November 29, 2012.