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Recognizing the many things to be thankful for

Betty Firth
Posted 11/19/20

During a Quaker Zoom meeting this Sunday morning, I was reminded by a scripture reading to feel gratitude, to give thanks every day (Psalm 92). (Yes, Quakers do have Zoom meetings for worship to …

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Recognizing the many things to be thankful for

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During a Quaker Zoom meeting this Sunday morning, I was reminded by a scripture reading to feel gratitude, to give thanks every day (Psalm 92). (Yes, Quakers do have Zoom meetings for worship to gather in silence. I thought that was one of the funniest things I’d ever heard of when we began, but there is power and fellowship in coming together.)
I have been full of gratitude even without being prompted, so grateful that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been elected to head our country and bring some semblance of sanity back into government.
Charlotte Bronte's words mirror some of my feelings: “For my part, I am almost contented just now, and very thankful. Gratitude is a divine emotion: it fills the heart, but not to bursting; it warms it, but not to fever.”
I’m feeling thankful to those tens of thousands of people who worked so hard on the elections— personal friends and acquaintances who did get-out-the-vote calls and wrote postcards and letters to the editor along with the field organizers who worked long, hard hours for not a lot of money, riding herd on wayward voters and bolstering spirits. I feel grateful to many strangers who make up the 100 organizations that comprise the coalition Protect the Results, headed up by MoveOn and Indivisible. These people, including those of us on the Range, formed an invisible web across the nation of people learning how to take non-violent action in the case of a coup as threatened by the sitting president.
We have learned a lot in this bizarre election about just how unprepared we were for certain unforeseen circumstances. Apparently neither the founders nor others who followed imagined that a crazed narcissist would threaten to refuse to leave the White House and refuse to acknowledge the legally elected president-elect. Apparently, it was felt that anyone in that high office would act with honor and dignity, as would those who surround him, so the need for contingencies was never imagined.
We have learned that a coup could happen without military force and that public non-violent protests have often stymied coups, pointing out the importance of taking action. In fact, the most successful non-military coups have been successful because the citizens did nothing.
I can even feel some gratitude toward Donald Trump for out-Trumping himself with his outlandish accusations of conspiracies and election fraud, his usual game of accusing others of his own transgressions. I can be grateful for his boundaryless narcissism and tantrums because they were hard to ignore…and we all know how Trump hates to be ignored. Perhaps, finally, it awakened some people who just weren’t paying attention to the fact that having this out-of-control individual in charge wasn’t good for the country. Why so many people still voted for him is, I believe, a case for socio-psychological analyses for years to come, but certainly beyond my understanding. I’d hoped for a Biden/Harris landslide, but I’m grateful there was at least a clear victory with both the popular and the electoral vote. A Buddhist proverb says, “Enough is a feast.” And we on the left are feasting.
I’m grateful for the financial support given to progressive campaigns all over the country. I’m grateful to Quinn Nystrom for her passion and tenacity in running for Congress at the age of 33, giving us another view of the future along with many other amazing female candidates.
I’m grateful that the overt racism and hatred aimed at Barack Obama, which blossomed during the last few years, fertilized by the current president and his henchmen, is being recognized for the pervasive and destructive force that it is in our country, with many people waking up to the need for self-examination and change. And, in spite of the misogynistic and racist spewing of some, we have elected the first female vice president, an Asian American woman of color. Yay for us!
And what’s next? It is not time to rest on our laurels. Okay, we can take a few deep breaths, but then there’s a lot of work that we have to do, and I am hopeful that many people who have responded to the need to get involved will continue to do so, and that others will join them. The list is long: campaign finance reform, reforming or removing the electoral college, reversing Citizens United, improving civics education in schools, undoing racism, and enacting universal health care, just to name a few. Pick the one you’re most passionate about and jump in – or stay in – the fray. I can’t remember the source of this quote – it might have been from the West Wing universe that I wished we lived in: “Democracy isn’t meant to be easy or to make you comfortable. It’s meant to make you free.” And I think that means we each need to do our part…and be glad we can.
Self-help author Melody Beattie, who has suffered enormous challenges and losses in her life, offers these words of wisdom: “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
I hope you all have a warm, peaceful, lovely Thanksgiving filled with gratitude.

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