Thursday, November 26, 2009

Genocide/Gratitude - Two G's of Thankgiving

I have long had mixed feelings with today's holiday - Thanksgiving. Actually, for the most part, when I think of Thanksgiving, what comes to mind is the murder of millions of turkeys, and the miserable history of Native American genocide that occurred both before and after the advent of this holiday. The traditional story of Thanksgiving is a propped up, whitewashed bail of lies that does nothing to soothe what I know came afterward for my nation's Native populations.

And yet, there is also gratitude. Being thankful. Without gratitude, we are all in trouble I think. There is much to be grateful for, when you pause and reflect. You can begin with the breath you are taking right now, and extend outward from there. Every day is filled with the opportunity to live a grateful life.

I think our hearts can hold both of these truths. We need not forget the past, nor forget the murdered turkeys, to allow gratitude to flourish.

Here's a little poem by a poet who was able, I think, to hold them both. He saw the horrors of World War I, as well as the that of the civil war in his own nation, Ireland. And yet he produced gems like this one again and again. Happy Thanksgiving.

Gratitude to the Unknown Instructors
William Butler Yeats

What they undertook to do
They brought to pass;
All things hang like a drop of dew
Upon a blade of grass.


Anonymous said...

great post, thank you Nathan.

spldbch said...

I remember in the fourth grade we were asked to write stories about the first Thanksgiving for a contest. I was angry because the winner talked about how the natives and newcomers were great friends -- well, with friends like us who needed enemies?

Anyway, it's good to remember the history but to also honor the spirit of the holiday. Thanks for your post!

Kyle said...

Well, hell, now I kinda feel bad that I enjoy Turkey so much.

However, since I am a meat eater, I can't say its the meat that I'm against, but rather the way the Turkeys are raised and penned up.