The Holidays officially began this week, unless you count the retailers Christmasing-up their stores on November 1st. I do, but that’s because I worked retail once-upon-a-time.
This past week our liberal friends recounted the devastation the White Man caused on the Native Americans by passing out smallpox-infested blankets, among other things. Naturally, they will offer thanks to Tofurkey and take solace in knowing how wise they truly are.
They’re not alone in their self-righteous thankfulness. Conservatives will speak to gratitude for living in a free country, with all the overly patriotic hoo-ha that comes with these sorts of things. Some of them will offer thanks for the free markets, others will offer thanks for the freedom of worship, and others will be grateful for third glass of wine-a smart move to be sure.
At least everyone is thankful for something, but they both miss the point. We live in a country that permits us to disagree with passion and civility. That is no small feat-or Turkey leg in this case.
While it’s true the Pilgrims sought refuge from religious persecution, we often forget that they sought a place to be more religious, not less. There’s a nod to you folks embracing the Christian-Nation model of America. Yet those on the left have a point: using biological warfare to wipe out the Native population was a rather un-Christianly thing to do. Sure, our country comes with a tattered past. That’s my nod to the far-left protests of Thanksgiving, Columbus Day, and any other day you see fit to protest. Just remember that no person ever achieved the Aristotelian ideal of excellence and neither can a country.
Too often, we gloss over this norm as an everyday occurrence. Jefferson’s transition to the Executive office in 1800 came without a rebellion. Call the elections earlier this month what you want, but bloodbath, revolutionary, and rebellion are really just hyperbolic terms far from real injustices, such as the recently reported honor killings in the Middle East. Now, that would make for an unpleasant evening with in-laws.
Civil discourse, that ability to disagree amicably is not just some rallying cry from Jon Stewart of The Daily Show; rather it represents the growth of human intelligence. The more we can see all sides of an argument, recognize valid and invalid points, and still remain civil, the better our living standards, even if we disagree. That’s a far cry from throwing Christians to the lions, or holding an inquisition on the Jews.
The tragic flaw of humanity and of any good Greek tragedy is hubris. I like to think of it this way: individuals don’t think they’re right, they know it. Still, over thousands of years we’ve gotten better about disagreeing. That is certainly something for which we ought to be thankful.