Friday, December 6, 2013

I wrote this before Thanksgiving and sent it to my local paper, hoping they might print it as a letter to the editor. It was probably too long for them, so it never appeared.

Before we dive headlong into our Thanksgiving turkey, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, champagne, pumpkin pie, whipped cream, and coffee, before we gorge ourselves on all that good stuff and fall into the comforting tryptophanic somnolence brought on by eating that formerly magnificent big bird, we ought to take stock of the things we are giving thanks for. Are we giving thanks for a most likely mythical sit down between gentle pilgrims and generous Native Americans that supposedly took place so many scores of years ago or are we perhaps honoring something deeper and greater? People around the world have autumn harvest festivals, and they, like us, sit down with their friends and family members and feast upon the riches provided by bounteous nature. They celebrate much like we do and eulogize their own national myths. Yet beneath or above these disparate apologues, aren’t they and we celebrating the same things – life itself and the world that sustains it? For a single Thursday in late November, we in the United States honor the bounty of the natural world that gave us life and sustains us, yet is the gratitude displayed during this celebration sufficient to compensate for the distain shown towards mother nature during the other 364 days of the year, when we are lopping off the tops of green mountains for black coal, opening up fissures in Mother Earth’s crust to coax out hard to reach oil and gas, and burning these materials and releasing into the air heat trapping gasses that Mother Nature spent millions of years removing from the atmosphere and storing deep within her carapace? Are we being good stewards of the Earth when we are rapidly and gleefully undoing in a couple of short centuries the work Mother Nature has done so gradually and laboriously over eons? There are many things as individuals we can do to show our gratitude to the natural world and our desire to preserve its health; we can turn down our thermostats in the winter and turn them up in the summer; we can walk and bike more and drive less and eat locally grown food. As citizens we can support a revenue neutral carbon fee and dividend plan advocated by groups like the Citizen’s Climate Lobby to help wean us from dirty fossil fuels and move us towards a clean, renewable energy economy. Black Friday comes the day after Thanksgiving swooping down like a bird of prey to kill the spirit of our beautiful national holiday just as swiftly and surely as the swing of an axe takes the life of Tom Turkey. Skip black Friday this year; use a little of that saved money to buy a stamp or two, and use a little of that saved time to write a letter or an email for your elected representatives, expressing your support for actions that will help to stop the dreadful harm we are doing to our planet at an ever accelerating pace. Carry the spirit of Thanksgiving over to the next day and the day after that and take a little effort to show the Thanks for what you and all of us have been Given.

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