Remember how easy it was to say “thank you” when you were a child and you had nothing to lose?
Yeah…neither do we…
And the thing is, as we become fully autonomous adults, with our own minds, motivations, and needs, it becomes less easy than it ever was in childhood.
We can talk all we want about the history of the Pilgrims, the fractious nature of their relationship with Native Tribes, or even if they should’ve left Europe in the first place, but underlying all of the dogmatic anger and resentment against the Pilgrims in our contemporary culture (and in some cases, against this day), is one simple fact:
It’s really, really hard to humble ourselves to say the words “thank you.”
It’s also really, really hard as adults to be thankful when we believe inherently that our own power gets us what we have, rather than working collaboratively in a community with others, creating “good enough” governments, and resolving arguments without resorting to violence.
It’s really, really hard to have a heart of gratefulness when we feel that our ideas, our emotions, and even our identities have been changed, stolen, appropriated, or even wiped out all together.
It’s really, really hard to say “thank you” when we feel that the system and structure is the one to whom we are giving thanks (it’s not) rather than the Immovable Force behind the system and structure (which we may—or may not—believe in).
It’s really, really hard to understand that saying “thank you” is not about how we feel today, tomorrow, or even how we felt in the past. Instead, having a heart of gratitude is about doing what’s right no matter what our ephemeral and fleeting feelings may be.
All of this is hard. And it should come as no surprise that it’s always been hard.
Both at the beginning of celebrating this thing called Thanksgiving Day, and all the way through today, two hundred and twenty-seven years later.
But if we get through this day, then the long spiral of renewal toward next year becomes one that happens without the baggage of resentment, conflict, and strife.