Tomorrow is a national holiday in the States—a national celebration of Thanksgiving. This image makes me think of the colorful atmosphere of the holiday, even though I took it in Hong Kong and I am fairly certain these berries aren’t something that should be consumed.
Thanksgiving is a celebration of different people coming together to rejoice and give thanks, originally between the Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrating the good crops of the season, at least that is how the story began. Thanksgiving was celebrated by many different Americans for nearly two hundred years before President Lincoln made it a national holiday in 1864. He did this in the midst of the American Civil War. The idea was that even though our country was in the midst of our bloodiest conflict, we, as a people, could come together and be thankful to God for all of our many blessings of the past year. This idea was a stroke of genius.
Today, America finds itself deeply divided once again. The conservative and liberal agendas are at odds with one another and, at times, the chasm seems very wide. I look at the Civil War through the lens of history and the outcome of unity seems so certain now, but I am sure that in that moment the divide in our country seemed irreconcilable. Yet Lincoln in so many ways envisioned how to pull our country back together. He had opposition throughout and eventually his life was taken by a few deranged individuals in that opposition.
My prayer is that as we enter this time of Thanksgiving, each of us is reminded that although we have differences, we are a blessed people and that there is a lot to be thankful for. I pray that this is a time where we come together as a nation and realize that we have more in common that unites us than we do differences that divide us. We aren’t a perfect nation. But I am one who believes that we are a good nation made up of mostly well-intentioned people. I hope that no matter who you are or what you believe about the direction of our country that you are thankful for being a part of a free nation. I hope you never take it for granted, how unbelievably unique that is in the course of human history. Being born as a U.S. citizen is like winning the jackpot in the lottery of history.
We don’t all agree about how to make American better, but at least acknowledge during this season that the desire to have a better country is a noble one, even if we disagree on how to go about doing that. I think if we could all try to see the good intentions in the others around us and stop demonizing our fellow citizens who disagree with a particular vision, that alone would make us greater.
I admit that I am preaching to myself as I am not always thankful for others with differing views. I try to remind myself to see the good in the individual and to try to see the good in the idea, even when I think the idea being proposed feels like a flawed one. I also admit that like those men who succeeded in assassinating a brilliant leader in President Lincoln that there are deranged individuals who seek out nothing but evil. All I am saying is don’t jump to the conclusion that all people who think and believe differently than you are evil, or not worth having a conversation with.
I leave you with Lincoln’s words that during this time of Thanksgiving, we ,as a nation, “do reverently humble [ourselves] in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.” This is the thought that I hope all would pray or meditate on during this season; peace, union, harmony for our great country. I hope that we could all agree that these three things are desperately needed. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
I encourage everyone to read Lincoln’s proclamation about this day’s national intent. After reading it sound-off in the notes below.
For all of you who don’t live in the U.S. I apologize that this was mostly a national post, but I am interested in hearing what you think about our country, looking in from the outside. Please leave me a message.