Happy Thanksgiving to any and all who are reading this, and I hope you’re spending the day with friends, family, loved ones, massive amounts of food, or whatever combination of the above makes you happy.
And I also hope that along the way, we give a little more thought than usual to the ostensible reason for the holiday, as this year seems to merit.
Not in the supernatural “let’s all praise a deity” sense (which is decidedly not my bag), but in the reflective, “let’s take stock of things” sense.
As I’ve written before, the last several years have felt almost surreal, just not quite there, as if the zeitgeist was in a holding pattern—or if that was just me (and perhaps like-minded folks who think too much), then at least that that zeitgeist had become impossible to relate to. But that’s over now. 2008 was different. Without a doubt, this has been a year for the record books, one that stirred vivid thoughts and feelings that we’ll all remember for a long time.
Certainly, many of the reasons for this have been negative. Jobs and retirements are disappearing; entire industries once considered rock-solid are in a tailspin; there seem to be no safe harbors in this economy. (In that vein, my own ongoing hunt for a new job remains… still ongoing, unfortunately… and countless other people are suffering as much or worse.) Meanwhile the very climate of the world around us is spiraling downward faster than expected, as we hear about accelerating glacial melts and dying oceans and multiplying natural disasters. And the geopolitical scene isn’t exactly a picture of peace and stability, either.
Yet, on the bright side, all of these dramatic happenings seem to have come together to present a collective shock to the system… waking people out of our shared daze, with any luck in time to make a difference. Certainly millions of Americans have stepped out of their comfort zones to get involved in political life, in unprecedented ways and unprecedented numbers. Old verities have been turned on their heads regarding what does and doesn’t work in politics, in economics, in the environment. Conventional wisdom has taken a much-deserved beating.
Humans are fallible, and civilization may be largely a result of trial and error… but every once in a while we learn from our mistakes and take a few steps in the right direction. We deserve to congratulate ourselves for that.
And there have already been results. For the first time in years, arguably in my lifetime, we can look to an incoming presidential administration that’s intelligent enough and practical enough to tackle the challenges we face in a thoughtful, meaningful way… one capable not only of winning the job but of doing the job. People see that their efforts have made a difference, and with that they see a window of opportunity, a glimpse of hope… and a visceral sense of the consequences of failure. There’s room for new ideas, and for that matter old ones that were never given a fair try. The future may be uncertain, but at least it’s the direction people are looking in again.
That’s a positive change. I hear it in conversations, I read it online, I feel it in the air. It’s like we’re waking from a long, restless sleep. It’s something to be sincerely, deservedly, thankful for.
Let’s all raise a glass to it today, and to the hope that we can forge better times ahead.Tags: Thanksgiving