Thursday, November 24, 2005

Giving thanks in the land of plenty

When you no longer buy into the mythology of American exceptionalism, the holidays suddenly take on a less celebratory nation. Since leaving behind God and country a number of years back, one of the first things I noticed is how much our holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Superbowl Sunday—are wrapped in the same trappings and lies as everything else about our nation. At least Christmas has carols, Charlie Brown and Jimmy Stewart to soften realities sucker punch to the sternum. Thanksgiving, unfortunately doesn’t lend itself so easily to delusion.

For the past several Thanksgivings, gathered around the turkey and trimmings, I’ve naively attempted discussions with family members and others, attempting to inject a bit of reality into the revelry. This unceremonious attempt revealed the depth of indoctrination that permeates our daily existence as Americans. The entire Indian/Pilgrim myth is one such lie that refuses to go away. Yes, there are those who do their best to demythologize the day and bring some veracity to the proceedings. But these folks are usually afforded the same level of respect and honor as the participants at a UFO convention.

In searching for writings about the day, it was instructive that so much sounded just like this;

“Most people know better than to view Thanksgiving as merely a day off from work and an opportunity to load up on turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie.

In a greater sense, Thanksgiving asks people to hearken back to this country's 17th century settlers, the obstacles they overcame during their first year in America and the friendships they developed with American Indians.

Those stories are introduced early in every child's life: the pilgrims, the fish used to fertilize corn, the wild turkeys with multicolored feathers and the chilly spray of the Atlantic Ocean on Plymouth Rock.

They are great romantic tales, and they may or may not be entirely true. But regardless of how valid the details are, the legends are instructive nonetheless. Thanksgiving, like most other holidays, can offer a chance for introspection, self-understanding and enlightened behavior.”

With serious issues about the historical authentication of the myth, I do at least give this writer some credit for directing readers towards, “introspection, self-understanding and enlightened behavior (whatever the fuck that means)”. If my yearly cycle of gathering with family and gouging ourselves on food is like most others (I would guess that it is), I don’t recall much of anything bordering on introspection or self-understanding.

Knowing that for many in our nation and other places, there isn’t a lot to be thankful for this turkey day, I offer the following things that aren’t worth giving thanks for. Maybe our nation’s affluenza makes it impossible for an American to be thankful and feel blessed for any of the abundance that they’ve acquired.

Without any further ado, here is a list 2005’s things to be unthankful for—think of it as the anti-Thanksgiving, 2005: Not intended to be an exhaustive listing, it offers an opportunity for reflection for those few hearty souls who care to add that to their turkey and fixings, as well as pumpkin pie.

  • Bombs falling on your head and killing your family (My nod to celebrations in other lands, such as Iraq)
  • The families of soldiers who won’t be returning for another Thanksgiving meal
  • The 30,000 GM carmakers who will be losing their jobs and their generous benefits
  • The millions of other Americans, the nation’s working poor, who will find it difficult to celebrate Thanksgiving, or any other holiday, on sub-living wage pay and no benefits
  • The countless Americans being squeezed by an administration bent on extending and making tax cuts permanent to their wealthy friends and benefactors—if any group should be thankful, it should be these bastards—instead, they’ll think of their gilded position as their right and not a privilege.
  • The many members of America’s working and exploited classes, forced to labor on a day that traditionally meant that commerce shut down for the day; instead, in a consumer nation where the corporate machine whirs 24/7/365, there is no such thing as a holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

5 comments:

Keepmo'money said...

Only a liberal like you could find a way to not like Thanksgiving. Oh, the poor Indians; wahwahwahwahwah!

You need to get a life, liberal!

Jim said...

A couple of point of clarification for you, mo'money;

1) I am not a liberal; while I self-identify as politically left-of-center, I have many issues with liberal ideology. I've written about it more than I care to recount in this comment. Just keep in mind that not everyone who disagrees with your narrow, and probably xenophobic worldview is necessarily a liberal.

2) While I'd hope that you'd be open-minded enough to possibly read outside of your canonical literature (Will, Rand, O'Reilly, Limbaugh and Hannity), I'm not holding my breath. There are many writers that I could suggest for you to read, that might open up the intellectual cave that you currently inhabit. A great starting point and one I always suggest for anyone interested in a more "grassroots" view of history is Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States."

Unfortunately, your callous comment regarding Native Americans pretty much identifies the ideological ghetto that you inhabit.

weasel said...

I was listening to Utah Philips on WERU on Thanksgiving, and I was struck by his take on the world- indeed, there are many things wrong with the world (especially from his persepctive as a committed wobbly- which I suspect closely mirrors both our perspectives on this sorrowful mess) but that these ills must be attacked with positivism, reference to progressive battles won, and a unwavering belief in the eventual arrival of humanity in the sunlit uplands, even if not in ones lifetime.

I'm sure the true edge of the sword lies somewhere between his optimism and your anger (and certainly not with the infantile burblings of this Mount Rushmoron Keemo'money) merging for an assault on complacency.

What stuck me as I lay on the couch low with 'flu was how much of that day of "introspection, self-understanding and enlightened behavior" was covered by TV as a prelude to the so-called "Black Friday"- a day more properly known as "Thanksgiving for Chinese Plastics Manufacturers".

Joe said...

Keepmo' is not a friend of the poor, either. Since his level of discourse never rises above this type of rant, I think it's safe to assume that he'd rather keepmo'money and readlessbooks.

Jim said...

My old friend Ken, had a name for folks like keepmo'money--he called them "fucksters". I think it's an appropriate moniker.