It is almost impossible to write about Thanksgiving this year, given recent events. The ills that affect us as a nation and as a people seem particularly pernicious as this winter rolls around. Predatory (indeed, homicidal) police roam both large cities and small country hamlets, our government spies on innocent Americans without restraint, and our politicians seem engaged only in political games-playing while the nation literally burns. Our policies at home and abroad unravel around us while the criminally rich are getting much richer and the poor getting much poorer. And the Average Man, that once-great American invention, seems to have a big target painted on his back.
Worse still, as a people we have lost many of the yardsticks that made us great. Neighbors are balkanized into warring factions, divided by our differences rather than united in our community. Cooperation, common curtesy, simple decency and respect for one-another have completely eroded into the ugly spectacle of everyday American life. A ride in the New York City subway is enough to make even the most optimistic of us agree with Mark Twain when he wrote: There are times when one would like to hang the whole human race, and finish the farce.
And yet …
And yet … we here at The Jade Sphinx are happy. We are not deluded that this is not a particularly dark period in our history, but we also know that is not the whole story. With a little digging, one can find decency, humanity and compassion most everywhere.
We see it in parents, couples, children, family and friends who truly love one another. We see it in those few who work for the common good rather than personal gain. And we see it in the eyes of people who care for us, in voices when lifted in song, and in the words and images of serious artists.
The anarchy that surrounds us is not the last word; it is often just background noise. How many of us have particularly warm memories of periods when the world seemed most dire? The horrors of man’s inhumanity to man are often sponged away by the bright furnace of warmth and humanity in their aftermath. The good is not interred with our bones, rather, the poison of our evil is diluted and the good remains.
And, perhaps amazingly, we here are still optimistic. Outside events shape our lives, but our internal outlook determines whether we are happy or not. Life constantly amazes me, and the simple fact that I am alive takes me by surprise. Life cannot sour me because I’m still living it – participating in the arts, laughing at jokes, enjoying books, eating delicious food, leering at beautiful people. (We particularly like that last one.) How can life be terrible when there is so much bounty to feed upon? Despite the many negatives that life throws at us, we are grateful for our time, for being together, and for the miracle of life.
My goal during the past year of The Jade Sphinx has been to help, to some degree, to illustrate that miracle, and to help illustrate how that miracle works.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. You may be in the darkness, but you are not of it.
And now … I think we can now safely think about Christmas.
Tomorrow: Back to the Frick Collection!