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Stateside: Re-tuning T-Day

Stateside with Rosalea Barker

Re-tuning T-Day

This being the fourth Thursday of November, it is Thanksgiving Day, and what better way to spend it than giving thanks. I’ve started my own little T-Day tradition this year by writing thank you notes to organizations that help out others in this land where it’s considered admirable to evade paying taxes and desirable for the government not to assume any responsibility for making people’s lives bearable.

So, out the little notes go, each numbered on the top right and signed on the bottom right, mailed in the self-addressed envelopes that came with the request for a donation. Sad to say, most of those requests have been piling up for nearly a year, but I’m somewhat pleased with the variety of field workers who have found a place at my harvest table.

To a local food bank and a public TV station, to organizations at state and national levels seeking reform to elections and media, to groups helping the less-advantaged in this society with education and energy costs, to international organizations seeking peace and bringing relief to the victims of war, go my heartfelt thanks for all the work you do.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a charitable person by inclination and I find conspicuous acts of charity even more distasteful than conspicuous consumption, but I just thought I might put out the idea that other people’s service and commitment are worth giving tangible thanks for. Folks donate to their favorite charities all year round, of course, but it’s kind of nice to bundle it up into a feast of thanksgiving on a special day of the year.

And such a day, I think, should be free of ties to any particular religion. Yes, I know that every recorded thanksgiving celebration that was held on these shores from 1541 onwards was predicated on giving thanks to a Christian God for deliverance from hardships. But the holiday we now know as Thanksgiving Day is not a day of worship, so it’s as secular in nature as anything gets in the U.S. of A.

Let’s give thanks, not just for family and friends and mercies small and large but for the service of people and organizations (aside from the military or government) that keep this nation vibrant with the promise that no matter how hard or wrong things are now, they will get better. In the words of Bay Area native Jack London, writing his introduction to a 1915 anthology of the literature of social protest, “The Cry for Justice:”

“He, who by understanding becomes converted to the gospel of service, will serve truth to confute liars and make of them truth-tellers; will serve kindness so that brutality will perish; will serve beauty to the erasement of all that is not beautiful. And he who is strong will serve the weak that they may become strong. He will devote his strength, not to the debasement and defilement of his weaker fellows, but to the making of opportunity for them to make themselves into men rather than into slaves and beasts.”

Thank you for reading this!



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