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Here in what was a gray and rainy Madrid, it was just another Thursday; but for ex-pats like us, our thoughts were with our families, friends and fellow Countrymen back home as we paused on this most special American holiday. Regardless of the historical accuracy of its origins the fact that we all, regardless of faith, ideology, background or culture, stopped to celebrate together with gratitude as the reason for our pause is something really special…and what is in the best way, uniquely American. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. With our best intentions, married to our inescapable consumerism we celebrate “The Holidays” and include Chanukah and Kwanza and anything else culturally happy under that shaky but inclusive umbrella…and of course it all gets caught up in yet another culture war skirmish. But not Thanksgiving…it’s for all of us, it’s about all of us and for all of us a time to symbolically and literally come together. Until this year.
In perhaps the most ironic twist in this year of living dangerously, coming together as extended families and re-uniting with friends might have proved in far too many cases to be deadly. With the virus still running rampant and with levels of infection, hospitalization and death ratcheting up to new heights we were confronted with choices that went against the grain about everything we’re used to doing at this time of year. And yet the irony is that in choosing to make what in many if not most cases were painful choices to stay apart, we actually came together to save one another…literally.
The scorecard won’t be written for a few weeks given the lag time between behavior and consequence but I’m hoping that we were better than we had forecasted. That despite the ongoing struggle in how we define both freedom and the common good we figured out a way to do the right thing and protected not only those we love but each other much more broadly.
I remember as a child to be awestruck by the immensity of the our Country as well as the personal stake that seemed to be granted to each of us as citizens to participate in not only what it is but what it could become. We each have a responsibility to participate, to be attentive and to render our best judgement…not only on election day but every day…And to do so conscious of the fact that our identity is defined by our mission to “out of many become one…E pluribus unum”. And today instead of wondering I will hope that enough of us can still have a moral compass that directs us to a common good that defines what truly we aspire to be what President Reagan famously described as... “That shining City on the hill”.
I have and will continue to rage about divisive behavior that holds no value in finding compromise and that seeks to exploit our differences to see each other as enemies rather than brothers and sisters in a common struggle…especially now where our challenges are so formidable. So here’s my plea…President Elect Biden may not have been your choice but I beg you to listen carefully to what he is saying and what I believe his intentions truly are. We will not all agree on the details of how we overcome what are truly awesome challenges to how we and future generations will not only survive but prosper, but we can agree on a common spirit of immense possibility for the betterment of us all, infused with hope, compassion and directed by the best of our intentions. He’s trying to say that to all of us and for me it’s a reason to be thankful.
So on this “Black Friday” that somehow takes gratitude and transforms it into spending that keeps food on the tables of so many…Blessings to you and all those you love and hold dear and a hope that in the days and months to come we can join together to be more than we could ever be apart.