A caricature on one of the big newspapers recently showed a group of people huddling behind a corner and using a long stick to timidly open a door with a sign that says 2021 on it. Like all good humor, there is a lot of truth to this caricature. 2020 has been disastrous and everyone’s afraid of what 2021 might bring. Covid-19 and the elections have wreaked havoc on society and the economy, and both debacles seem reluctant to end.
This is why the holiday season, and particularly Thanksgiving, is coming just in time. This holiday of gratitude, abundant food, and (most important) family gatherings, can turn things around. If you look at educational websites such as Kiddos Magazine, you’ll see that one of the things they advise with regard to Thanksgiving is to “Put aside differences.” They stress that you should “Vow to put aside differences on Thanksgiving and focus on the aspects of your family for which you are grateful.” This is not easy, but as the magazine writes, “While easier said than done, this provides an excellent model for children as they learn about relationships and family.”
I think that this year, putting aside differences (not ignoring them, just declaring a ceasefire), is of particular importance. If politics breaks families, then it isn’t politics that’s breaking them up; it’s hatred disguised as political differences. And if we let hatred separate families then we have destroyed the most basic building block of society. If we can’t overcome hatred within families, there is no future for society. And if there is no future for society, there is no future to the country.
This year, it is more important than ever to make sure everyone in the family comes, and to truly commit to rising above all differences. Healing all of society will take time, but the beginning is (literally) very close to home. In the past several months, many families broke apart, or nearly broke apart due to Covid related tensions and later election related tensions. The holiday season is a chance to reconcile, to remember that we were all born different, and just as we find it difficult to accept other views, other people find it hard to accept ours.
Nevertheless, if we keep our views different yet make our connections more important than our views, we will find that the differences between us make our connections stronger rather than weaker. We will discover that building strong and lasting relationships does not mean we never disagree, but that we agree that our connection is more important than our disagreements. In this way, disagreements strengthen our connections, which in turn strengthen us as individuals.
Just as men and women are different, yet life would be impossible without both, differences on all levels are required to make life dynamic and evolving. Once we make unity our utmost value, we will learn to value differences, and then we will truly have much to be grateful for.
I hope that especially this year, Thanksgiving will be a celebration of unity and togetherness.
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