On Being Thankful….

Thanksgiving looms on the horizon and excited cooks and epicureans everywhere are busy planning and shopping for their feasts. The holidays are a happy time, aren’t they? I am happy at the prospect of cooking my favorite dishes, the smell of the house filled up with spices and goodness, diet abandoned and commitment to satiate your taste buds perfectly acceptable. Of course, there is also spending time with family and friends…but for some, my self included, that is a double edged sword. Are there any normal families or is that simply a misnomer? 🙂

But this Thanksgiving is different for me….I am happy about all the usual things but I have to pause and contemplate the state of the people around me and it is sobering. So many people right now are unemployed. What kind of holiday will they have this Thanksgiving? When it is time to spend that extra $$$ for food to make their feast will they be able to make the grade? If they are one of the many millions of homeowners who have lost their homes to the mortgage crisis where will they hang their hat this season? Will it be a new shade of hell as they can’t help but recall the homes they put so much of their love and lifeblood into but is now lost? And what of the homeless and the brutal cold that is winging it’s way towards us to complicate their plight? The numbers of the homeless have risen disproportionately and are reflected in our streets, on food lines, at Church giveaways. What of the everyday couples that I see struggling with coupons in the supermarket, trying to figure out what they can do without? Do you see them too or are you one of the blissfully unaware who read the headlines but remain intact and therefore unchanged?

The worst feeling I ever had was last Christmas in Target. The store echoed eerily with the absence of shoppers. For once, we did not trip over people in the aisles or curse the overly enthusiastic and inconsiderate people. Those that were present, stood hunched, wraith-like in the aisles, hovering over merchandise with worry creasing their brow as they shopped for what little they could afford.   As a forty something year old, I have been lucky to live my life without being a witness to mass deprivation…until now and it has changed my entire perspective.

This year, I am truly thankful. Thankful for my home, thankful for my love and friends and family. Thankful that my journey and struggles continue and that my life, while tremendously altered by the economy, is still recognizable. I am thankful that my interior landscape has been altered and cleared of unnecessary, material obsessions to make room for consciousness, awareness and compassion. Be aware….be thankful.

Will the scapegoat please stand up? Thank you, Mr. President.

It is the day after election day and in stark contrast to the elation which followed the last one, I am hanging my head in disgust. My opinion may be unpopular but at a certain age popularity becomes less important than your personal truth – Thank God!!

I am not surprised at the results of the elction as the mood of the country has been obvious for sometime. The last two years in review make it obvious that many in the country are bipolar. (No offense to those who suffer from the disease!!) Desperation breeds insurrection. In the 2008 elections it was painfully obvious that we needed a change from the politics of everyday, the corruption of the corporations and the greed that now wears the face of capitalism and democracy. Obama stepped to the fore and incorporated all the hope for change and freedom that we could ask for and more. In his two year tenure, he has been true to his word. True. Not a word that one usually associates with politicians. Missteps, absolutely but his intentions remain untarnished. The ride has been bumpy just as he predicted. Unfortunately, people forgot that and with the impetus of unemployment in the double digits and the growing deficit, which is a necessary evil as a result of some of the very changes we wanted, they have now changed the tides and given power back to the party which put us in this mess to begin with.

Now, they pose questions to him about his policies and ask if he thinks that he was mistaken in some of his views/goals. How could that be when they represent, in their purest form, the very changes and ideals that we wanted a scant two years ago? It seems that people in their unhappiness and discontent are looking for a scapegoat and he is convenient so they have thrown him under the bus. A disproportionate part of the nation is exhibiting some of the worst characteristics that we possess as humans, shiftiness, an inability to stay the course, lack of faith and unjustified anger. It is demoralizing and disheartening to watch. I am truly sorry that we have made the political landscape even more difficult than it was before and I have next to no faith that the shift towards Republican and Tea Party ideals will make out plight any better.

As an African-American, I have watched the country and the media railroad our president and I am further horrified by the disrespect and lack of support that is so prevalent. Many will say that it has nothing to do with racism and use his ascendancy to the White House as a reason to say Americans are not motivated by racism. I am sorry to say that is simply a blatant lie. Since Obama entered office he has received triple the death threats of ANY standing US president. Yes, it’s a fact, google it. For every liberal that stands for him, there seems to be three times that number who despise him just on the basis of his skin color. Is he a Muslim? Is he a US citizen? How much money is he spending on vacation and is he squandering our money? Which is truly laughable because Bush spent more time on vacation than any sitting President, if memory serves. But who can now deny the man was asleep at the switch? RIGHT.

Two years in and there are still kooks running around questioning his legitimacy. Obama is certainly one of the most educated, passionate, articulate, intelligent and honest individuals to represent the American people. We have voted into office a peanut farmer and an actor for crying out loud!!! Yet, they were shown more respect and didn’t polarize the country in the fashion we see today. Is it really so hard to see the undercurrent of prejudice in the loud and vehement voices? Not if you are Black like Me. I know hate when I see it because I have seen a disproportionate amount of it in my lifetime, sad to say. It is the noise of the dissidents that crowds out the good he has done and what he stands for. Just reading the virulence of some of the posts on the Net make me ill. If everything was wonderful some would still find a reason, any reason, to denigrate him. Unable to see truth, we wish to back those that would continue granting tax cuts to the wealthy, limit the role of government because the corporations and private sector were doing such a bang up job, repeal the Health Bill and limit the ability of the everyday person to obtain affordable insurance and block social justice and law that is long overdue. Yes, I get that there were compromises that we did not wish to make to reach the end goal but WHERE are the grownups in this discourse? Is life not a series of compromises? Why should policy decisions and political progress be any different? And believe you me, there will be little or no compromise now. I have arrived at the opinion that it will certainly get worse before it gets better and our lack of faith and vision will be to blame.

Meanwhile, Bush has disappeared from the political scene, quiet as a mouse and just that quickly forgotten. Eight years of madness, blunders and warmongering and now he gets to go back to a cushy life completely divorced from the horrors and lies he left behind.

What legacy will our confusion and hate leave behind? What do we teach our children as we are consumed with apathy and anger? When will things get better? I know I am not alone when I say, I am waiting….

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