November 22, 2010
Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday. It does not have much meaning in other countries, as we found out several years ago when we were in Israel on this amazing day and it was simply a Thursday in November.
The first Thanksgiving lasted three days and celebrated the survival of the pilgrims and Native Americans following a horrendous first year in the New World. Their gratitude was about survival itself. This year, for me, its meaning carries not only gratitude, but also sadness for the suffering in the world that has worsened in the past twelve months since the last Thanksgiving. Wars continue, unemployment has continued for millions not only in the U.S., but also across the globe. Now, following Thanksgiving, what is to be different from any in the past? How are Thanks and Giving to be expressed today in a meaningful way?
The continuing debate about healthcare reform, about social programs, and the limiting of the role of government, about the power of the private over the public in solving problems that lie in the domain of family and person…these debates are just that: debates. Whether the discussion has any relationship to the realities of how we actually live on a daily basis, how an unemployed parent who is responsible and skilled in his job has to now tell his family that he is, today, unemployable…how do these debates relate at all to the experience?
It is here that I would like to thank the nurses, physicians, social workers, healthcare workers, and all those who make it possible to provide a net of life when life as we know it is threatened. None of us can conjure up a real image of the experience of a horrific car accident, of a cancer diagnosis, of a heart attack; of a terminal illness…it is all rhetoric until it is our turn. And, lest we forget, the ravages of aging visited on those otherwise productive, invaluable sages whose legacies they will not even know…how do we empathize with those we fear may be us in the years to come?
For my Thanksgiving and all the days, weeks, months and years that follow…thank you. Thank you so very much.