Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving. More than thanks, giving.

Thanksgiving is upon the Americans...North America...United States. Okay, we Americans are having our Thanksgiving holiday.

And you know what that means. Having a good meals before we head out later that day to line up to shop. Sadly, no joke there.

That is what it is for many of us. Others like to get some time off (unless you work retail, and you're resting before going to work Thanksgiving night -- or afternoon, at Wal-Mart) Or, to complain about Thanksgiving being horrific.

Now, it is true that the relationship between Europeans colonizers and native peoples in the Americas tended to be less than ideal...Okay. They tended to be dark passages in the annals of history. And we can never let what resulted be forgotten, despite some wanting to brush it over.

But there are some positive lessons to learn from those early years. Even today.

But first...

Okay. Back to my point.

Giving thanks is an old tradition. For the US, we draw back to the Plymouth colony for the holiday. From the start, the English settlement of Plymouth struggled. They were out of there depths. They couldn't get the crops to grow. They were getting sick, or dying. Some local tribes didn't care for the colonial interlopers. And the colonist stole from the food stores of some of locals. Not a good start. A bad lot. You can imagine what modern conservatives would say of them and call them if they could see them as they were.

We too often get a nice weird image of guys in big hats, all in black, with lots of buckles. They seem to all be tall and barrel-chested. And then they invite the Indians over for a party, because that's just how awesome they were. No. The colonist didn't dress like that. And they weren't clean, healthy, and hearty. It was a tense and dark time. Things were grim.

But...They were helped. The Wampanoag tribe gave them food during the first rough winter. They were taught fishing techniques, and which crops grow best in the local ground. Plymouth was struggling and dying. Many colonies before had been attempted. some died out, some were abandoned. Their fate was not certain. But the local society around them lent a hand to them. It fed them. It trained them. It bolstered them at the point of greatest need. They got their asses saved.

So now, as we gorge ourselves and prep to show in this time of Thanks Giving, let's remember and learn from the aid and support given to our national ancestors (the white ones) by those natives (also out national ancestors) 400 some years ago.

No, they didn't just build it.

No, they weren't lazy because they needed a leg up.

Now though, we can continue the good that was done that year. We can consider and plan today how we will continue to pay forward the good spirit and intentions of that time. How can we feed those in need? How can we teach those in need? How can we bolster and aid those in need?

We can ensure the Affordable Care Act moves forward. We can ensure a social safety remains intact (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, SNAP, and on down the line). We can pull back from war. And we can remember those in need, acting to be sure they have a chance to succeed.

Americans to pay for Thanksgiving dinner with food stamps in record numbers

The latest data from the US Department of Agriculture shows that 47.1 million Americans relied on food stamps in August – the highest number yet. 

Since 2007, participation in the food stamp program has skyrocketed, increasing by 70 percent. The cost of feeding the approximately 44.7 million Americans who relied on food stamps last year cost the US government a record $72 billion. 
Also, in the wake of the first Thanksgiving, on reservations, poverty approaches 1/3, and 4% of food stamps go to Native Americans.

 More SNAP data.

Infographic: The face of the food stamp recipient

But it is a joke to some.

Fox Pundit Jokes Food Stamps Could Be A Diet Plan

Sadly, for some, helping out your neighbors is ridiculous. From conservatives that see much of the country as lazy or looking for hand outs, to wealthy people eager to avoid any investment in society.

Or, investing in the well-being of their employees.
Restaurant chain experiments with more part-time work to avoid Obamacare costs

And they do this despite the positives for the economy and the business that will come from this investment.


Take time to appreciate the good things you have in your life. Thank those that helped you, and were their for you.

Then think about giving, how we can all give to those in need.

Some more thinking on Thanksgiving with John Fugelsang, hosting The Point:

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