To be clear, I am no vegetarian, though I have respect for those who forgo eating creatures bred to be really stupid, pumped up to be bigger than they would be. I’m sure conditions are sometimes problematic. And… does any of that have anything to do with being “thankful?”
Sort of, historically.
I do think the gathering of family can be a wonderful and grand event... sometimes. Sometimes we do it because we have to and the real thankfulness comes when they leave. Sometimes the result is the opposite. I wouldn't be surprised if murder rates among family members rise a tick T-day. Use, or misuse, of Stand Your Ground on Thanksgiving Day between members of the family who disagree could have devastating results.
Our broken families certainly have something to do with our inability to resolve our problems regarding gun violence. As we argue more guns, or more regulations, family members are dying, folks.
But, more than anything else, for some reason Thanksgiving has turned into a gorge fest where billions of artificially pumped up turkeys grace our tables, potatoes so tormented they are now mush… wonderful mush… wondrous mush… and a goo that supposedly has cranberries in it: somewhere. Sometimes I wonder if they have huge factories where they can this gunk. Factories populated with old men guilty of the sin of over eating a diet filled with just cranberries. When their normally impacted… bogged down… colons finally give up the gelled waste they can it and ship off to the stores. It a sin-biotic relationship.
What the hell is in that stuff anyway?
And how did Thanksgiving turned into… this?
Thanksgiving is an adopted, and adapted, holiday. Like most holidays Thanksgiving has a longer history than we think, we just didn’t always call it that. Prayers of thanks and celebrations for the harvest go back as far as humankind has had an agrarian society. The first Thanksgiving-like celebration instituted by a whole society may go back to the ancient Mesopotamian harvest festival of Akitu., though I think the similarity between the two slight… at best, But it does celebrate harvest, specifically barley. Yeah, beer!
Something to really be thankful for!
But let’s stick with the more local: protestant, start to the festivities, OK? And, as celebrated today, at least Thanksgiving has more in common with its real historical roots than Santa, balls on a dying tree or garland… which started, long before Biblical days, as intestines of our enemies twisted around a tree.
And, “Fa, la. La, la la” to you too.
That’s “a wrap.”
And Easter? We’d be closer to the real reason we celebrate if we mourned like at a funeral, then celebrated by eating this rabbit who somehow lays colored eggs.
Then you could say “has no pepper for the Hasenpfeffer?”
But we really did have a multi-food extravaganza Thanksgiving time, many years ago. The Indians and the settlers shared an incredible feast in a time when food was scarce, and the new folks: us, needed a helping hand becoming part of the family. Kind of like children getting guidance from the older, the wiser. For a moment we gave into our need to be thankful for new friends and the wisdom of those who knew more about the “New World” than we did. The family of humankind has had these brief moments of peace and sharing with the new folks. Oh, so brief: at best. For a moment those who had their differences were able to break bread, kind of like how a family gathers before Mom and Dad have it out. She tosses his CDs out the door, he takes back the jewelry he gave her, she calls the police…
And a Happy Gobble Day to you too… for now.
The long term aftermath from that day was worse. Attempts to exterminate them, some tribes responded back brutally, retaliate by making them walk across the country to what we would call concentration camps or gulags if they had done it to us… there’s much to be ashamed of. Especially when we defend Stand Your Ground now, but when the natives stood their ground we had no compunctions.
We could go to that place too: the place we have much to be ashamed of and far less to be thankful for. Slavery, women as second class citizens, Jews and blacks lynched and executed by mobs, workers locked in a factories that burn, child labor… yet even in the darkest moments eventually we have something to be thankful for: instead of having some world war ending in us being conquered and all this being revealed, we do try to right ourselves, walk straighter, find true justice.
Tis often a bloody venture, indeed. But we are enough of a diverse society, have enough freedom, that we keep trying to walk straighter, more upright. A lesser nation would just wait to lose a war and let the war crime trials begin. And since we are oh, so, damnably slow, maybe someday we will need to go there. I hope not. I really do.
Not now. We still have time. We just need not give into the America is always right crowd, American exceptionalism. Such is a path followed by The Roman Empire, Germany and the worst humanity has to offer.
Maybe we can start by serving up justice: when the real warmongering turkeys end up on the table of justice, and the corporations get regulated instead of getting rich off of war and paying off politicians.
We’re a strange species who beat ourselves up over what can’t be helped, and conveniently forget, or ignore, what could have been prevented.
We’re a strange nation seeking freedom for all, yet too often use that as an excuse to support another, slightly different, form of oppression. Or to claim “freedom” is the “freedom” to oppress others we simply don’t like, or who don’t suit our religious memes. And, as always, desperately trying to swim though the sludge offered by obvious contradictions and the hypocrisy.
It’s that attempt, that effort, that spirit of trying to get it right, we should be, oh, so thankful for.
We are a strange society where once staying together for the children meant abuse, verbal and physical. Now, more often, we are often broken family nation always trying to find ways to mend, put ourselves together again in different ways.
The broken family more accurately describes America: perhaps it always has. The reactions to the natives, Tories and patriots, brothers battling over state’s rights and the expansion of slavery… I believe all that, ironically, can make, and has made, us stronger if we view it as opportunity to grow, to learn and certainly not to hate or kill each other. Just kicking folks out and not talking to them again may work for the broken family sometimes, but not for a broken nation. Time to straighten ourselves, walk more upright.
It will always be this way: for the adventure is the journey, not some fictional final destination.
Otherwise we will be the real mythical turkeys who stare up at the rain, open mouth, and drown. For that’s what happens when myth and self importance becomes more important than each other.
We are still here.
We are still growing.
We are still attempting to straighten up, walk upright.
For that, we should be thankful.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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