I see good people
Cole Sear: I see dead people.
Malcolm Crowe: In your dreams?
[Cole shakes his head no]
Malcolm Crowe: While you’re awake?
Malcolm Crowe: How often do you see them?
Cole Sear: All the time. They’re everywhere. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Happy Thanksgiving. For those who equateThanksgiving with the genocide of indigenous people, it’s not a happy day. Some of the same people don’t celebrate Christmas because Jesus wasn’t born on December 25. The brilliant Frederick Douglass justifiably indicted the 4th of July in ringing tones in 1852. Today, some say it is un-Christian to celebrate Veterans’ Day.
For each perspective, I give thanks. I am grateful people pay rapt attention to mankind’s myriad imperfections. I appreciate those who look for every single flaw in a given historical record so they can discount entire narratives. I am thankful for people who doggedly expose the details in historical – and current – atrocities. Their outrage provides an occasional impetus for much-needed change.
The pessimism also gives me perspective. Juxtapose it with this Pollyanna thought: I love humankind. Unlike Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense movie, I don’t see dead people. I see good people – everywhere I go and everywhere I surf on the Internet.
Warning – editorial birdwalk: If you’re not seeing good people when you surf, you might be going to some, umm, distasteful sites :-). Or you just love football, politics, religion, reality TV or HOA regulations. A Cornucopian believes there is enough energy and matter for all to survive and thrive, even as our population increases. We’re wasting an incredible amount of energy on spirited debates about, say, whether our neighbor chose the correct shade of taupe when repainting the trim on their suburban home. Just sayin’.
Back to our originally scheduled topic: Largely unaware of their goodness, I see people just quietly doing decent things in matter-of-fact ways. Pulling cars out of snow-filled ditches. Ringing the red bells for the Salvation Army. Sending postcards to sick kiddos. Collecting coats for those who’d otherwise be cold. Lending a hand wherever one is needed.
I am delighted and grateful to be alive in this miraculous era of change and progress. Worldwide, we are more connected than we have ever been. Over time, that inexorably leads to understanding, which evolves into empathy, liking and respect. Friendship develops. Friendship turns into family. Families squabble but stay united, in thanksgiving, at Thanksgiving. (They revile each other in Facebook boards as well, but that, like a rumination on HOAs, is a post best written on another, less appreciative sort of day :-D.)
Thanksgiving calls us to be grateful for the abundance that surrounds us and to share that abundance with others. It’s a pure, simple concept. It’s a hopeful and purposeful call to positive action. It’s a call to prove that the compassion, ingenuity, resilience and loving splendor of humanity always – eventually – drowns out the evil and chaos that is also a part of us.
I see people actively seeking to heal the hurt that, left untended, turns into disconnectedness and anger, which morphed into violence and hatred so recently in Paris. People, in spite of that evil, choose to appreciate the basic, uncorrupted ideal of Thanksgiving and reach out to help each other.
There are those, like the Isis leadership, who believe that subjugation is necessary, that different people get to observe different rules. This year, just like every other, people are engaging in murderous acts and doing other inconceivably vicious and hateful things. But, they are the minority. Their numbers will diminish – if we, the majority, unite in condemnation of these acts, not letting them divide us and starve us of connection. The irony is that their violence begets violence until a definitive conclusion is reached. That peaceful day is, sadly, likely to be a long way away.
In the meantime, though, it’s actually easier to help people in need almost anywhere in the world than it has ever been. We have more ways to share our bounty than in any other age in history. So, will we use the belief that “other people” are vile to somehow give us an excuse not to help anybody out ourselves? Or, will we lend a hand to someone, quietly and without fanfare?
Life is good. We are blessed to be alive in this beautiful, hurting, brilliant, tormented, faith-filled, agnostic, always resilient and ever-changing world of ours. In this era of political toxicity and faux worldly-wise cynicism, glad and happy Pollyanna is actually the wisest, most evolved school of thought.
Happy Thanksgiving. May we all be surrounded by love, and may we all share our abundance.
PS If you’re in the U.S. and want to find a new way to help someone somewhere this year? Guidestar is a good place to start. Charity Navigator lets you know how well each nonprofit manages its finances. Your wise and thoughtful giving will make a positive difference. if you’re outside the U.S., please send me some links to well-run charities and I will publish a follow up.