During this short life of ours, it is important to challenge all forms of thought and belief so the long road ahead can be travelled with clarity and understanding. The fog of confusion and ignorance blinds too many of us and we wind up lost or misguided, turning at exits we never should’ve taken or circling back to where we were after straying toward the wrong direction, often ending up further away from our destination than where we started. Sometimes, examining hard truths can lift the fog and make our route clearer, ultimately making us better people.
Let’s pretend the stories we learned from our history books are accurate and Thanksgiving actually is about family, togetherness, reflection, and an appreciation for what’s really important (there are a number of links at the bottom of this post related to the genocide of indigenous people and the true story of Thanksgiving that we urge you to read).
This holiday is supposed to mark the beginning of a season where the goodness of mankind is shared among loved ones and strangers, where we give thanks for all we have, and celebrate our good fortune. There is just one hard, and frankly ugly, truth most of us want to ignore: the majority of us are spoiled in one way or another.
We do not intend to ruin anyone’s Thanksgiving celebration (I say this knowing it is not a celebration for everyone), but please consider some of the following thoughts because the underlying message of “giving thanks” seems to be forgotten at times:
- Roughly 800 million people, or one out of every ninth person in the world, suffer from chronic undernourishment, which means their lives are in danger every day because they do not have enough to eat, while the majority of Americans (about 88%) will be enjoying a turkey dinner and are likely to overeat (the act of consuming more calories than our body needs to function).
- It is estimated that Americans will spend 2.9 billion dollars on Thanksgiving-related groceries. The total doesn’t include money spent on gas or other items needed for the event. The rest of the world and many parts of our own country are in dire need of help…it doesn’t hurt to wonder what kind of help could be provided with that amount of money.
- Not everyone considers Thanksgiving to be a holiday. To some, it is a reminder of endless suffering and oppression that nearly caused an entire population of people to become extinct. While we are not celebrating this fact, the day does not have the same meaning for some as it does others and considering this can make us sensitive to the struggles of others.
- Currently, in countries like Yemen, famine threatens the lives of countless people. Not to mention a Cholera outbreak that has the potential to do even more damage to those regions. Most of us are lucky enough to be in somewhat good health and have access to food, water, shelter, and vaccinations if needed.
- The day after we our give thanks and appreciation for the things we take for granted happens to be the biggest shopping event of the year. Many Americans will brave the cold and the “Itis”(Google it) where they will hunt for items that are simply not needed. I am not sure which word fits best–ironic or hypocritical–but on one day we acknowledge the essentials in our lives, then seem to forget about them and pursue frivolous items the next. There are many who will trample, fight, and sleeze their way through the aisles in search of items that hold little importance when measure against the grand scale of things.
The point is: some of us complain about having to see certain parts of the family & in-laws, or the travel, or the hustle-and-bustle of the day, or not being able to hear the football game because everyone is talking too loudly (god forbid the turkey is dry). We are spoiled because these problems are trivial and we have the privilege to appreciate the small things one day, then move on to other things that probably don’t mean as much. We are spoiled because we get to enjoy Thanksgiving, and pretty much every other day, not having to worry about whether or not we’ll eat tomorrow or die from some third-world disease.
This post is not intended to make anyone feel guilty. We sincerely want everyone to enjoy the festivities and advantages many of us share. We only wanted to remind people of how truly blessed many of us are. Our circumstances are what they are because we were born here and others were not as fortunate; keeping this in mind will help us appreciate it all even more.
After the celebrations are over, let’s not lose sight of the perspectives and the principles we share during the holidays–we don’t need a holiday to celebrate being grateful for what we have or to spread goodwill to others, we should celebrate our thanks every day, and never forget those who have less.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Don’t forget to ‘like’ and ‘share!’
Sources not embedded in this post: