Like so much in the year 2020, this Thanksgiving offers us a mixed opportunity. There is still much to be thankful for, yet Thanksgiving is a celebration that honors some people, while ignoring many others.
Early this fall I had the privilege of officiating a wedding at the Kituwa mound, the mother place of the Cherokee people. Participating in the culture, I could not help but witness how the arrival of Europeans has negatively impacted my friends’ ancestors, inflicting harm and scars that my friends carry today. Similarly, we have yet to reckon with the legacy of slavery and its surviving children – systemic racism and oppression.
Add in the disease, isolation, and loss of loved ones, and the prospect of sitting down to a Pilgrims’ feast seems less than appetizing. And yet…
Perhaps it is fitting that Thanksgiving became an official holiday in 1863 in the midst of a terrible civil war, borne of the idea that in the midst of so much wrong, we might still take stock of what is right.
And so, I am thankful for you. You all are remarkable leaders. You can and must continue to confront the broken, the bad, and the wrong. Yet you will remain optimistic, active, and you will inspire hope in others.
There is a lot of work to do and many people to nurture and empower, but today let us be thankful for the many leaders in our families, communities, and organizations who work to make things better.
Do good and be well,