Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Counting My Thankfuls*

Who misses those nasty campaign ads? Only the ad agencies that were paid to put them together and the television stations that collected the ad revenue for broadcasting them, that’s my guess. So that’s one thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving: thank God the election is over.
Many rejoice that Obama was elected; it’s a new world, and a fresh start, and boy, we could all use a fresh start in this season of economic crashes. I really could not bring myself to believe beforehand that this amazing thing could happen. It felt like a miracle, a growing up in this country, and I am thankful for that, as are many people.
A conservative friend told me that she wore black and no jewelry the day after the election; I know that conservatives are mourning their loss, as I mourned when Bush became president, both times. I felt hopeless for the future of this country, and the world. Perhaps that is what conservatives are feeling now.
I know and love a lot of conservative people; I grew up in a conservative family, and don’t know why I turned out to be the only liberal, or progressive, I guess I’m supposed to call myself now. Maybe it was the inspiration of the civil rights movement and the ugliness of racism, or the siren song of rock and roll, or the yearning for peace while seeing the country torn apart by division over Vietnam.
Maybe it was the hypocrisy of people saying one thing and doing another. Many of the conservatives who now hoot about patriotism made darn sure that they did not go to Vietnam back in the day. That double standard is alive and well, from those American chicken hawks to Osama bin Laden, who was (and is?) willing that other people should commit suicide for his cause, but took (takes?) tender care for his own well-being.
What I sense is that progressives and conservatives want many of the same things: a living wage, a safe place to live, a healthy family, education for our children, the right to worship as we choose, enough food, a decent place to live. We want to be free to go about our business without the threat of terrorist attacks; we want our children to come home from war unscathed, or not to go to war at all. We all want these things. We disagree deeply about how to go about getting them.
We have lived with one way for many years, and now we’re about to try other ways. Changing how a government, how a country, is run must be akin to persuading a volcano to erupt in some other direction. Some things, when in progress, are almost impossible to change.
So everybody take a deep breath and get ready to work, because no matter who won that election, we had a lot of work ahead of us. It’s time to think about what you’re thankful for these days, and let go of what you cannot change. I’m thankful that we’re all still here to be in this mess.
I’m thankful for my family and friends, no matter what their politics. I’m thankful for the pleasures of the mind, and that I can still walk, if not very well some days. I’m thankful that my husband is still glad to see me and I’m glad to see him at the end of the day, after more than 30 years together, and that we still enjoy talking to each other. I’m thankful for the saving grace of faith in my life, and the laughter of my adult sons.
I’m thankful that I can still learn things about me that make me try to make my personal volcano erupt in a different direction, although now I sometimes say, heck, I’m sixty years old. I don’t want to take the time or energy to try to change (whatever it is) about me now. This is it.
I’m thankful for that, too. What are your thankfuls this Thanksgiving?
*Thanks and a tip o’ the hat to Julian for the word “thankful” as a noun.

This piece was written to appear in the November 20 issue of the Vashon Loop. Alas, Troy, the publisher, is in the hospital with gall stones, so there will not be a November 20 Loop.

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