Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

THANKS FOR NOTHING

                                         [A post-Thanksgiving meditation]

         ‘Tis the season of the disappearing Day of Gratitude. Halloween now overshadows mid-Fall. Thanksgiving is just a long weekend from work even as Christmas wraps our malls in mind-numbing muzak and excessive displays. Before that, Halloween claims our fancy, turning a serious Latin commemoration into another drunken bacchanalia like St. Patrick’s, this time in honor of dead people who don’t stay dead.

          Why aren’t we grateful, anymore? We think and say we are. But deep inside we’re just looking for a break from the monotony. And it shows up in what we choose to make important, or not.

          There was a time you could say “Socialism” and somebody would shoot you. This year another aspect of it, universal health care, is on the table, albeit getting the usual ugly stares. Maybe we’re getting tired of what started long ago and lasted till now, except of course in Europe–and in papal pronouncements that, little noticed, have condemned capitalism in perpetua.

          Way back when we emerged and spread up the Nile (it flows northward) and into what is now Iraq and beyond, we humans got ourselves organized, especially around water, and lots of it, like the Nile Delta and where the Tigris and Euphrates ran merrily; the Nile’s annual flooding helped by leaving behind lots of rich silt as we settled down to farm as a way of life.

          Now, there always were and will be people who are smart, some who are smarter and those not so much. But all are alive and kicking—and here’s the catch: they all need each other, a lesson never learned. Back then, the brighter ones used warriors and priests: the first to make workers work, and priests to preach that that was what the gods wanted. The gods, they were told, were represented on earth by those who seized power, otherwise known as kings.

          As time passed, the ruling classes lived in palaces with fine foods and furnishings, and the majority, whose labor built it all, were known by their growling stomachs and humble huts. And so it is, down to this very day. The ruling class looks down on the real workers, who somehow live another day and typically give thanks for the little they have.

          That’s why big-shots don’t like protests and revolutions—not even sit-downs and stand-ins, or occupying administration buildings and Wall Street. It upsets the apple-cart. They like least of all union leaders and people named Spartacus.

          Here’s the thing: as always, the ruling class has more than it needs but they don’t think so. Back at the beginning, knowing they couldn’t have their palaces and lifestyles without someone willing and able to build them, why didn’t the rulers say—Okay, we’re in charge because we have the bigger and better ideas, but they won’t happen without your help; so when it’s all done we’re cutting you in on a fair share worth your time and trouble.

          But that’s not human nature, we say. Excuse me, greed is certainly one side of it, but fairness and compassion are the other side. Greed after all is a terrible thing; also a lesson never learned.

          Jefferson recommended a revolution every 20 years or so, not necessarily replacing the government but the people running it. “Throw the rascals out,” was his mantra. But now the rulers have learned to manipulate the little guys into thinking that everything is for their own good, and literally to vote against themselves.

          The rulers are also fierce believers in “Law and Order,” meaning the law as they make it and order as they conceive it.

          A good example of the wrong valuation of other people is the way we once looked on garbage collectors. We said anyone could do that, ignoring that not everyone was willing to. When the workers threatened to strike, polite society told them to go to hell, so workers left the garbage in the streets and suddenly we all understood how important picking it up was, you know, for the sake of public health.

          What is truly extraordinary is how and why people go so long allowing themselves to be de-valued. Others after all are using those people’s life energy, which is not only valuable but as sacred as the life and energy of the aristocracy. Equality is also good religion, so why do big shots get bigger and better churches too, given they don’t believe in equality? Maybe, deep down, that’s what’s shrinking Thanksgiving in favor of more distractions and dumb excitements, you know, like Halloween. Maybe the worker bees are sitting down, looking at the turkey and realizing something is wrong here.

Maybe they’re thinking: thanks for nothing.

         

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