November 28, 2019
I know other countries also celebrate Thanksgiving but, to me, it’s a uniquely American holiday. Without debating its origins or whether they’re truth or fiction, and blotting from my mind for the moment the greed, gluttony, and irony of the “Black Friday” that follows, Thanksgiving is a ritual that Americans from the poorest to the richest can enjoy. But it is particularly useful and important for me this year.
So this Thanksgiving, I’m doubling down. I’m looking even harder and more broadly for things I can be grateful for and paying particular attention to things I might have missed in the past that others in this world, through the lottery of birthplace, can’t enjoy. Clean, cold water whenever I’m thirsty and a steamy hot shower when I ache. I can have safe, healthy food that is ready in an instant, or I can take the time to cook fresh fruits and vegetables in my own kitchen. I have doctors and dentists and physical therapists to help keep me healthy. I live in a country that balances the needs and interests of our wonderfully diverse nation, and that allows us freedoms that many have never experienced. Even the political dumpster fires in Washington these days are evidence – if somewhat perverted evidence – that while our democracy isn’t always pretty, it is always ours. And we get the governance that we elect and that we deserve.
So as I double down on being thankful, I’m also going to be a better American. It doesn’t mean I’m going to compromise on my values or the things I think are important, but I’m going to be better about how I share those values, and how I debate with those who disagree. I’m going to go out of my way to actively listen more; and will listen to more people who don’t see things the way I do. Instead of just complaining about things I don’t like about my town, state, or country, I’m going to volunteer and become part of the solution I want to see realized. And I’m going to be civil. The energy we have poured into the political vitriol over the past three years or so has only weakened us as a country: Giving foreign adversaries and domestic fringe elements unacceptable opportunities to take advantage of our hateful disagreements and distractions.
So this Thanksgiving I’m committed to being thoughtful, civil, and involved: And to trying to cooperate with people who see things differently. I want to do better in order to be that American and rebuild an America that is worth the sacrifices of so many.
I would extend that challenge to our leaders in Washington, regardless of party. Be the government worthy of all that Americans — farmers, teachers, first responders, factory workers, miners and, yes, veterans — deserve.
To do less is inexcusable.