As we enter this Thanksgiving week, it’s worth recognizing the signs of hope for each of us, our communities and our country... they are all around us. We don’t see things as THEY are, we see them as WE are. So our ability to see hope is within our reach if we seek it. We see what we believe.
Here are a few of the bright spots I see.
In his new book, The Upswing, author Robert Putnam draws upon a century of history, describing the confluence of trends that brought the U.S. from an “I” society to a “we” society and then back to an “I” centric cultural ethos. Using Google’s Ngram tool, Putnam tracks the use of the words “I” and “we” over the past centuries and plots an “I-We-I” curve. He points out that we’ve moved from an individualist society to a collective society, and now back to a place of individualism.
So where’s the hope? I see it on the horizon even as we enter a new year of continued sacrifice. I see hope in what is being called a new “roaring ‘20s.” I expect 2021 to be a great new beginning. Just a few short years after the Spanish Flu in 1918, the 1920s ushered in an amazing array of technology (major advances in television), medicine (penicillin), aviation (Charles Lindbergh), radio (the first mass broadcasting system)... the list goes on. I see the same pent up enthusiasm and innovation bursting through, just over the horizon.
If we can succeed over the next year as a nation united in a spirit of collectivism with an all-boats-rise approach to solving our problems we can be the “we the people” that the first three words of the Constitution set forth and upon which our country was founded. Justice, Tranquility, general Welfare, the Blessings of Liberty... these are the aspirations we seek in our pursuit to be a more perfect union.
It’s not an accident that the Pledge of Allegiance begins with "I" and ends with “all.”
President Lincoln announced that our nation would celebrate an official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863, a decisive year in the midst of the Civil War. While we’re not in a civil war, we are divided, and what a better time than this Thanksgiving to start to heal? To talk to that family member or friend and ask them how they’re feeling. No judgement and no resistance, they aren’t wrong, they just see the world as they are, just as you see it as you are.
We’re all in different places. That’s ok, we have always been in different places--acceptance will make this week more peaceful and allow for some healing.
I want to extend my deepest thanks to each of you who reads this blog and the warmest wish for a Thanksgiving that gives you hope.
Whatever your beliefs, remember that hope is about the future and faith is about the now. We all need to root our faith in something we believe in so that hope has the oxygen it needs to survive.
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