So, along with the many email Forwards I received in the last week, one seemed to need some actual response instead of the usual ‘read and delete.’ It was forwarded to my mailbox as Jay Leno’s words, but in actuality they are the words of one Craig Smith, who turned a very short little quip delivered as part of Leno‘s monologue into an op-ed for World Net Daily (a totally conservative e-rag, by the way, that includes articles such as how eating soy at a young age turns people gay. go figure.)
I read the whole thing and felt my blood rising as I realized that Mr. Smith’s “challenge” to Americans to quit complaining about what their government is doing and just be grateful for living in the manner to which we have become accustomed, without looking and understanding what is happening, is a big mistake that I hope people don’t take to heart. (I haven’t included Mr. Craig’s opinion but you can find it here.)
I hit “REPLY ALL” and asked everyone to Please do be grateful but Please do NOT stop thinking… Within a day, my brother David wrote this beautiful and poignant response, for which I am endlessly thankful:
Ah, how to start.
As I sit here with my infant son sleeping comfortably on my chest. I read this commentary, and I don’t care who wrote it. I am always happy to be reminded of all that I have to be thankful for. We all need to take time to appreciate those that we love around us, and time to unwind away from the crazy world around us.
I’ll start with how I am thankful that I have two beautiful, gentle, healthy, wonderful sons. But that doesn’t mean that at moments, my heart isn’t filled with the grounding reality that at the prime of their lives, they could get dragged off to some armed conflict based on lies and sent back in bodybags.
I am thankful that I live in a warm, dry house with a quality of life unheard of on this planet until the last 50 years. But that doesn’t keep me from realizing that with the technology that we have in place at this moment, if every man woman and child on our planet had this same quality of life, our environment would (without question) collapse in not years, but days.
I am thankful that I don’t have to worry about my family being victims of violent crime, even though I know that the widening chasm between rich and poor, and the failings of education in this country will most certainly ensure that this is just a golden age. We won’t have that luxury for long unless we figure out some very important policy gaps and start supporting our fellow man substantially. And it doesn’t keep me from remembering occasionally that there are sizeable portions of our own population who live in jungle fear in poor urban neighborhoods.
I am thankful that I live in a country so full of caring people – doctors, engineers, builders, heroes of all varieties, and that even if our constitution gets whittled away and our government gets us so used to lies that we don’t notice, we WILL still come together in groups that warm our hearts, and in crisis will probably rise to the occasion and make things better. But it doesn’t keep me from remembering that there are places in this country where the police are feared, and fire trucks rarely come because the economic base can’t support good rescue services.
I am thankful for science, for showing us how to treat terrible diseases, and for letting us find truth about the world.
I am thankful for this president for very backwards reasons, for being such a terrible president that it wakes up the electorate to what power can do to a group of people… and for taking our country to a place of near economic and military collapse so that we no longer have the means to pursue hegemony over the oil of the planet.
I am thankful that oil has officially reached its peak production, and the price of gasoline is being driven to prices that we can’t afford (thanks again to our president’s military adventures). F inally those technologies that are so crucial to the health of our planet and survival of so many species, including ours, will be driven inexorably to the forefront, and no global warming deniers will have even financial reasons to deny the energy revolution that will save us.
I am thankful for the possibility of recession, aside from the pains that it will cause many families, because it will wake us up to the unsustainability of our lifestyles. It will teach us that our grandparents learned the most valuable lessons during World War II, that we need to live frugally, and responsibly, and not waste like there is no tomorrow. It will teach us that a dollar spent has to be a dollar earned. It will bring us right back down to the reality of how we need to live.
I am thankful that the clothes I wear are affordable, even while realizing that accepting them means I contribute in some small way to slave labor in China and environmental disaster in some place th at I probably won’t ever see.
There are ways out of all of this. And I agree that drowning yourself in disaster-filled news isn’t the answer. But neither is living in a bubble of blissful ignorance. And neither is clinging to religion if that religion is trying to convince you that this administration isn’t lying to us, or championing things like banning gay marriage at the expense of responsible public policy.
It is very easy to get tied up in problems that are too big for us as individuals to fathom, much less solve. It i s very easy to allow disappointment to cloud our days. But let me just suggest that another way is to simply digest the problems with the belief that we can fix it eventually, or if you happen to be religious, to have faith that your god or gods will help us do the work that we have to do.
We have to review these problems with care as we look at the policies our politicians champion and vote always and responsibly. Liberals shouldn’t be hitting the all democrat tab, and neocons shouldn’t hit the republican tab. We need to take a bit of time and really understand what we are voting for. We need to hold our politicians to standards of honesty and integrity. Lies need to be a reason to dismiss them. We need to understand the shifting line between spin and dishonesty. And pin it down, hard, in a place that we hold our own friends and relatives accountable for.
Ah, it hurts the bra in, but so does learning a new language or anything that is big. Maybe some of us aren’t up to the task. But that doesn’t mean we have any excuse to not try, and allowing any crap like Britney Spears gossip or Montel Williams shows into our heads greatly reduces our capacity for keeping our eye on the ball.
Fill yourself up with thanks of all that we have here, and then with that strength holding you up, realize
that our lifestyles are NOT sustainable, and that we are part of a very small percentage of the people on this planet that are as lucky, and we have a responsibility to do what it takes to find what is most important and get rid of the excess so the rest of them can hope for a life worth living as well.
If you have read this far, I love you.
I am filled up to the brim with thanks for more than I can say.
Thanks for the opportunity to make this trip, to share what we are learning, to see great friends and meet new people, to be encouraged by all the people who care and who are willing to make change…and for everybody who has been supporting us along this trip. As I said to one of my dear NY friends who sends us random comments every week or so, You are keeping us afloat, truly.
Happy Thanksgiving!!! with all the good stuff…