Perhaps the adversity of the last nine months has caused me to reflect more often on the goodness that’s hiding all around me even in the face of ugly politics, health and wellness tribulations, and a teetering economy. There’s just no avoiding it; 2020 has been a year that’s triggered too many negative emotions. Hardest for me was the loss in August of my younger brother to the pandemic. But I’m resolved that anger is a destructive emotion, so I’ve let it go. And I’m thankful for getting to that point. I’m grateful that the rest of my family is intact and now likely to get to the finish line of this scourge; discouraged that science doubters have worsened the pandemic, but very thankful for the science that is bringing vaccines and therapeutics at incredible speed. And for the many previously invisible and unappreciated persons on the frontline, I’m incredibly grateful: docs, nurses, teachers, police and firefighters, custodians, postal workers, trash collectors, cashiers, essential workers – such a long list – that have helped us to heal and kept the economy afloat. I’m so appreciative of the spirit of cooperation among my team members at GBMP and to our customers who have forged ahead, finding new ways to work; in some cases totally pivoting their businesses to help fight the pandemic. And for the original frontline, our military men and women, thank you for keeping our country secure. I’m thankful for these many demonstrations of decency and selflessness.
It’s odd that only one day of the year should be dedicated to being thankful. And even that day has become the object of dispute and division: a symbol of the Manifest Destiny that was to follow over the next several centuries. Perhaps the story of a beleaguered congregation of religious outcasts landing on a foreign shore, rescued and nurtured by native Americans is just a myth. As the story was told, when I was a kid, the man most often heralded for saving this haggard group of immigrants, Chief Squanto, was a member of the Pawtuxet tribe. Squanto himself had been previously captured by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Along the way, he learned to speak fluent English, a fateful blessing for the Mayflower travelers. On his return home, Squanto discovered that his entire tribe had succumbed to smallpox, a plague rained upon them by European settlers. Plenty of reason for anger, yet it was Squanto’s empathy and his English skills fortuitously acquired as a slave that created the possibility of a first Thanksgiving. Sometimes the humanity of a single person can change the trajectory of history.
Maybe it was just a myth, or maybe it’s up to each of us to make it real. Since last August, a song has been buzzing through my head, summing up my feelings. I’d like to share for this Thanksgiving. Give a listen to the lyrics.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and remember – only love can conquer hate.