Poem: Burden


I do

bear the burden

of sin

When you

enslaved

destroyed

and

displaced

impoverished

and

murdered

robbed

and

lied

cheated

It is the

shame

of my skin

and

duty

of my soul

to

rectify

 

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Someday


Today is different for me than most. A day to reflect on the inhumane treatment of animals and the continual sacrifices they must make to feed humans. I hope someday it stops.

And the centuries old disrespect and disregard of Americas Native people. It is one of our truly disgraceful periods in history.

Sure, I have plenty to be thankful about–but on this particular day, I would rather reflect on these two topics since they tie into this ‘holiday’. It has been a hard day for me for many years; today I am saying so.

May the future bring more comfort and peace to lives of those we take for granted.

 

A Thanksgiving Perspective


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As we near Thanksgiving I was ruminating on the President’s speech on immigration last night. I don’t like to get too political here on my blog, but I feel compelled to share a few thoughts.

First, I have to say (and which will possibly surprise or annoy some), Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday. My feelings are based on a few reasons: it bothers me that we pick a ‘day’ to be thankful when it feels to me that so many of us don’t feel thankful much of the time (just listen to people around you); people overeat and stuff themselves on this day when so many in this country and others are starving and we continue to be so wasteful with food in this country–not to mention how unhealthy we are around food in this country; and finally the origins of this holiday seem profoundly hypocritical to me given the suffering of the Native Americans in this country today. These are my feelings, so I often spend it working, alone and/or fasting. Plus as one maitre de at a restaurant once said: Thanksgiving is a rather tragic holiday for a vegetarian. (Now I’m a vegan and gluten-free!! )

So here we are in 2014 with an immigration war raging again. It’s not the first time the politicians have fought this battle, and it’s far from over. But I thought about this war, and I thought about Thanksgiving. And I thought about those Pilgrims and the first steps they took on this land when they emigrated here. How they had hopes and dreams for a better life. How they had suffered dreadful seas and weather and lost friends,  family and left the homes they knew. They did it because they had a glimmer that maybe they could have something new, forge new fields and build a new, freer government.

They were met by strangers when they set down. Those immigrants who put their feet on this land, not their land, but the land of other caretakers who had lived here for centuries and followed the way of earth. They came in droves after and pushed the natives back. Killed the animals and brought theirs. Cut down the trees and planted their crops. Brought disease and alcohol. More immigrants came from other lands and this nation of ours grew and grew. Cities flew up. Pollution filled the skies. Cars filled the streets. The natives were placed on small tracks of lands and were told this was all they had now.

And now generations of those immigrants call themselves Americans. We, the descendants of those immigrants, call this country great. New immigrants want to come because it is a great nation with opportunity, money, jobs, education. Other immigrants, just like those first ones want to come here because they have the same hopes and dreams to make a better life for themselves and their children.  They climb fences, swim rivers, deal with police, get shot…anything to come to our wonderful country and to get away from terrorism, drug dealers, and murderers.

So on Thanksgiving, when people sit around their tables to give thanks–remember your ancestors. Remember where we all came from and why we are here and free. Think about why others might want to be also. Remember we’re not perfect either. We took when we came. Maybe we need to pay it forward now by doing right to some new immigrants because it may certainly be too late to make up for what we’ve done to the Native people who were already here.

Scrooge Of Thanksgiving


As some of you who follow my blog know, I’ve been attending my local UU church a little more regularly. Today was our ‘harvest supper’. UU’s would never call it a ‘Thanksgiving’ dinner, because that would be labeling it something traditional and potentially politically incorrect for some. That doesn’t particularly bother me. What does bother me, is the Thanksgiving holiday itself.

It happens to be one of my least favorite holidays. I’ll probably offend people here, but this holiday has gotten under my skin for many, many years. To me it is the epitome of so many things that are wrong with American society.

A holiday that promotes gluttony and over-eating in a country that is already ripe with over-eaters is crazy in my mind. Food, food, food presented in excess and eating until you’re going to bust just really, personally, turns me off. Especially when you keep in mind the millions (billions?) of starving people in the world today. I used to fast on this day just to make a point. Giving out free turkey in a soup kitchen, now that’s a good thing.

And then we look at what this holiday is celebrating: the pilgrims and the “Indians” coming together for a meal and sharing food. Don’t even get me started on the state of affairs of the Native American people now in the this country! How the white man has devastated the land that was theirs and took most of it. Now we have currently left them in poverty, poorly educated with many of them turning to alcohol. Their whole way of life was robbed, yet we celebrate this day! Do you think they are thankful?

I hear so many people talking of the stress of it too: going to their families and trying to blend. For me, years ago being a vegetarian trying to fit into my in-laws was like a nightmare. This is NOT a vegetarian friendly holiday. Now being a vegan AND gluten free…well, forget about it! Thank goodness I’m divorced. Usually I just sit at home, work a shift or go out to eat. As a maitre de once said: Oh, Thanksgiving is a tragic holiday for a vegetarian! Too true!

And as far as being thankful: why save it up for one day? I try to be every day. Yes, I understand sitting around a table with friends and family and have a mass of thankfulness, but it seems very contrived. Just another Hallmark moment.

Or maybe I’m just a Scrooge of Thanksgiving? Maybe some ghostly turkey will visit me tonight and scare me half to death. And instead of Tiny Tim’s crutch there will be empty beer bottles to make me feel guilty. And scenes from Thanksgiving to come flashing before me…. and yet, and yet…. Nah, I still think I’d rather stay home and read a book.