Search This Blog

Showing posts with label Thankful. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thankful. Show all posts

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving, the Via Negativa

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

 

Many of us write reflections on this day, posting memes that express to the world the things we are thankful for, and that is nice, conscientious, appropriate. We have much to be thankful for as Americans, and we should never forget it.

 

A heartfelt expression of gratitude is always welcome, even the gratitude that is expressed in general for the many things we receive from those we love, by whom we are loved, for the things we are given 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.

 

Thanksgiving is a day for humility; therefore, be gracious. Be thankful…insofar as you are able, in-so-doing you will be following the way of the wise.

 

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

 

The apophatic tradition tells us that God is shrouded in mystery, a state of being that mystics describe as the cloud of un-knowing.

 

According to the apophatic tradition, we are not able speak in the affirmative about what or who God is, because God, the eternal and infinite, God will not be circumscribed by the finite constructs of human thought and language.

 

We are not able to posit meaningful assertions about the nature of the Divine; what we are left with is the via negative, the way of understanding who God is by stating what God is not.

 

In keeping with the via negativa, I am in the custom of forgoing the traditional giving-of-thanks, even though I am truly grateful for my friends and compatriots, I am grateful for everyone in my life, grateful for all of those who inspire me, who love me and who are patient with me every single day.

 

I am grateful for you.

 

For thanksgiving I follow the via negative, the negative way, and express what I am not thankful for.

 

I am not thankful for the coronavirus and COVID-19.

 

I am not thankful that 260,000 Americans have died from this virus, with thousands more dying everyday.

 

I am not thankful that there are more than 20,000,000 million Americans out of work do to safety measures we have had to take in order to fight this pandemic.

 

I am not thankful that tens of millions of Americans refuse to participate in those safety measures, that they do not care for the lives and safety of their neighbors, or their families or even themselves enough to wear a mask, and keep distant from one another.

 

I am not thankful that the track record of the United States is the worst in the world for dealing with this crises, that with four percent of the population we have twenty percent of the deaths.

 

I am not thankful that Donald Trump lies about these facts and figures as a means of trying to avoid responsibility for his dismal failures.

 

I am not thankful for the food lines that stretch for miles in some communities this holiday season so that families can have something to put on the table to celebrate the good things in their lives.

 

I am not thankful that the economic relief which the entire country is in desperate need of receiving is being held up by the political machinations of Mitch McConnell the senate majority leader and his caucus of heartless, short-sighted republicans.

 

I am not thankful that in the Fake President, Donald Trump, continues to divide us by class, culture, color, and is desperately trying to overturn the results of the election he just lost by 7,000,000 votes, and counting

 

I am not thankful for their collective failure of Congress to protect the constitution, or for the individual members who have forgotten their oath of office.

 

I am not thankful for our failures of leadership.

 

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 and the sloth and the bad public policy that fosters 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 his allies in congress or people anywhere who continue to support him.

 

I am not thankful for the media outlets, the reporters, the editorialists who failed and continue to fail to take the threat Donald Trump represent to our Democracy seriously. I am not thankful that they abdicated their responsibilities as the gatekeepers of society, as the so called 4th Estate, allowing his corrupt and criminal regime to cause so much harm to ordinary people.

 

I am not thankful for his corruption of the rule of law.

 

I am not thankful for our government’s continuous assault on our population of immigrants and refugees, for the way we have abdicated our responsibility to care for the asylum seeker.

 

I am not thankful for these things.

 

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

 

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, both their soft supporters and their ardent advocates. I am not thankful that they have had a seat at the table in the Trump administration, I am not thankful for the normalization of that kind of hate in our society.

 

I am not thankful for that.