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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving, the Via Negativa

Today is Thanksgiving. It is a secular holiday, but nevertheless, Thanksgiving is sacred to most Americans.

Many of us are writing, posting memes, outwardly expressing the things that we are thankful for.

That is nice. It is conscientious, appropriate. We have much to be thankful for.

A heartfelt expression of gratitude is always welcome, even gratitude expressed in general for the many things we receive from those we love, by whom we are loved, that make our lives more comfortable, more challenging, and more meaningful.

It is never inappropriate to thankful.

To express gratitude is to make one’s self humble; it is to acknowledge our reliance on others for making us into the people we have become.

Be humble.

Be gracious.

Be thankful.

In theology there is something known as the apophatic tradition. In this tradition it is understood that God (the creator the universe, of all that is and all we are), that God dwells in a place beyond human understanding.

God is shrouded in mystery, in the cloud of un-knowing.

According to the apophatic tradition, no one can speak affirmatively about what or who God is, because God, the eternal and infinite, God will not be circumscribed by language.

There can be no positive assertions about the nature of the Divine, there is only the via negative, the way of understanding who God is by stating what God is not.

Following this tradition, I will forgo the giving of thanks, even though I am truly grateful for my friends and compatriots, for everyone in my life, for all of those who inspire me, and are endlessly patient with me.

I will be selfish and tell you all what I am not thankful for.

I am not thankful that there is no peace in the world,

In Burma/Myanmar where the Rohingya people are facing genocide.

In Palestine, where there is apartheid, where millions of people live in cities and towns that are prisons, and the walls of their homes are the walls of a jail.

In America, where we are divided by class, culture, color.

I am not thankful for the dismal failures of our government in the recovery of Puerto Rico.

I am not thankful for white supremacy, and domestic terrorism.

I am not thankful for terrorism anywhere. I am not thankful for the religious fundamentalism that drives it. I am thankful neither for the fear that spawns it, nor for the fear it generates

I am not thankful that there is hunger in our bountiful world. I am not thankful for the greed, for the sloth, and the bad public policies that foster it.

I am not thankful for willful ignorance, for anti-rational, anti-intellectual, demagoguery. I am not thankful for the cultural relativism that has promoted it, for anti-objectivism, for liars.

I am not thankful for Donald Trump. I am not thankful for my fellow Americans who voted for him.

I am not thankful for the media outlets, the reporters, the editorialists who failed to take him seriously. I am not thankful that they abdicated their responsibilities as the gatekeepers of our society, as the so called 4th Estate, and allowed his criminal regime to hold the seat of power.

I am not thankful and ashamed everyday of his antics as the President of the United States.

I am not thankful for on-going continuous assault on the working class, the threats that are levied against the average citizen in the spheres of public policy like health care, and taxes, access to our National Parks, and the reasonable expectation that we live in a clean environment.

I am not thankful for our government’s continuous assault on our population of immigrants and refugees.

I am not thankful that these things.

I am not thankful that there is so much more to add to this list.

I am not thankful for the shortsightedness of liberals and progressives who cannot stand united in the face of social forces that threaten us all.

Did I say that I am not thankful for white supremacists? I did, but let me say it again…I am not thankful for them, or their apologists, their soft supports or their ardent advocates. I am not thankful that they have a seat at the table in the administration of a Donald Trump.

I am not thankful for that vile imposter, who stole the presidency with the aid of a foreign power, the Russians no-less.

I am not thankful for them.

They suck.