Thanksgiving, that holiday of family, friends, food, and thankfulness in the US, is almost here.
What could be better than a day dedicated to giving thanks?
Hopefully, on T-day, we’ll fill our spirits as well as our plates. Our expression of thankfulness, expanded, becomes gratitude. Gratitude, in turn, becomes a way of being in the world. We give thanks for specifics, for family, community and what we’ve been given. With gratitude, we expand our perspective beyond what is personal to us and feel our common connection.
Gratitude invites me to share blessings with others.
Gratitude is like a healing superpower, which brings me light when the fires rage in California, the Northwest rains begin, I lose a dog, or life doesn’t go the way I’d prefer. Gratitude invites me to remember my deepest values, even as the cultural cacophony about holiday sales and shopping days till Christmas, begins to crescendo.
Gratitude reminds me of what is important and what is good. I notice the small blessings that I almost take for granted, such as the right to a good meal, and the big ones I should never forget, such as the right to freedom.
Because life is not a “grab-bag candy game.”
Sorry, Gordon Gekko (of the movie WallStreet), but greed is not good. Toni Morrison put it bluntly when she spoke to a group of students. Don’t treat life, she told them, like a “grab-bag candy game.”
In that game, the powerful get to be first in line, putting their mitts into the candy bag and pulling out all that they can. Winners take all. The losers, whether they be refugees in a Caravan from Central America or the marginalized in our own communities, well, too bad. They should have been first in line.
The grab-bag candy game dehumanizes us. I remember the words of the Dean of the Management School at Yale, a fiscally conservative guy, who nonetheless said,
“The problem isn’t in making a lot of money. The problem is thinking that you have to keep it.”
Hoarding isolates us. Sharing connects us.
My sister-in-law, a very talented independent videographer, shot several episodes of a reality show about hoarders. As she entered their overstuffed homes, she found them crammed with misery. (Believe me, she doesn’t keep anything surplus!)
Now back to freedom…
The freedom to share
Our freedom thrives in our desire for others to be free.
Morrison also told her students:
Remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”
Freedom, like love, gets bigger when it’s shared.
“Justice grows out of our recognition of ourselves in each other, That my liberty depends on you being free, too,”
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.”-