Keeping 'Thanks' in Thanksgiving
Side by SideIn these pre-Thanksgiving days, three recent news items might be cautionary tales guiding us to true celebration. Will we learn?
Published: November 19, 2010
Published: November 19, 2010
The first is a question columnist Leonard Pitts asked: "Can we all get along?" They are Rodney King's words, watching rioters burn Los Angeles in his name, some 18 years ago. The second are the findings of the American Psychological Association (APA) that adults are being stressed by the economy and not seeing a way out. The third, what AARP calls its "landmark survey," says there is a dramatic rise in loneliness.
Pitts wrote of the national angst we have just witnessed during the elections: the character assassinations, death threats, property destruction, congressional wrangling. The nation, however, reflects the many individuals who will not be able to get together with their families for a Thanksgiving dinner without bickering and resentment.
The APA could point out that economic stress plagued past generations. It feels "new" to a must-have-it-all-now, credit-card populace. National debt mirrors slavery of citizens to unsustainable lifestyles, for which, they are selling their souls.
The AARP thinks they broke new ground, but loneliness is as old as sin. Despite Oprah and others declaring 50 the new 30, etc., AARP's survey subtly labels us as old at 40-49, older at 50-69, and oldest at 70 plus. Chronic loneliness is most prevalent among the "old" group and decreases significantly among the "oldest."
That means we could learn something if we can find the way through this old, older, oldest maze. The survey mentioned that people are frantic and frazzled by busyness, in need of solitude and downtime, and that the Internet cannot substitute for real connections.
Neither can crowds of shoppers. The day after Thanksgiving, retailers press Black Friday upon us, their attempt to come out of "red" debt into "black" profit. We can reduce Thanksgiving to commercial holiday, taking that red debt into our personal finances, or we can find the gratefulness of past generations for life itself.
We have a great example in Allen and Violet Large, a Canadian couple in their 70s, who won a $10.9 million lottery in July 2010. By November they had given $10.6 million (98 percent) away, saving 2 percent for their own needs. They blessed their family, churches, hospitals, fire departments, and others. Working for 30 years, Violet now battling cancer, they said they had enough for their retirement years and are "happy with what we had and the way we were going." Not many can say that.
Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Many will emerge from the holidays feeling the depression and letdown of previous years.
Can we all get along, learn to manage our money, find fulfillment instead of loneliness? "Blessed are the peacemakers..." (Matthew 5:9), who make peace with themselves and others, with money and life, and put the "thanks" back in Thanksgiving.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together - side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her a lindadowning.com.