Thanksgiving, the Via Negativa

Today is Thanksgiving. It is a secular holiday, but nevertheless, sacred for most Americans.

 

Many of us are writing, posting memes, outwardly expressing the things that we are thankful for. That is nice. It is conscientious, appropriate.

 

A heartfelt expression of gratitude is always welcome, even gratitude expressed in general for the many things we receive from those we love, by whom we are loved, that make our lives more comfortable, more challenging, and more meaningful. It is never inappropriate to thankful.

 

To express gratitude is to, is to make one’s self humble; it is to acknowledge our reliance on others for making us who we are.

 

In theology there is something known as the apophatic tradition. In this tradition it is understood that God (the creator of all that is, and all who are) that God dwells in a place beyond human understanding. God is shrouded in mystery, in the great cloud of un-knowing.

 

According to the apophatic tradition, no one can speak affirmatively as to what, or who God is, because God, the eternal and infinite God; God will not be circumscribed by language. There can be no positive assertions about the nature of the Divine, there is only the via negativa; the way of saying what God is not.

 

Following this tradition, I will forgo the giving of thanks, even though I am truly grateful for friends and compatriots, everyone in my life, for all of those who inspire me, and or endlessly patient with me. I will be selfish and tell you all what I am not thankful for.

 

I am not thankful that there is no peace in the world,

 

In Syria, from where millions of people are fleeing their homes, starving, being shelled day and night.

 

In Palestine, where there is apartheid, where millions of people are jailed behind walls in their homes.

 

In America, where we are divided by class, culture, color.

I am not thankful for white supremacy, and domestic terrorism, I am not thankful for terrorism anywhere. I am not thankful for the religious fundamentalism that drives it. I am thankful neither for the fear that spawns it, nor for the fear it generates

 

I am not thankful that there is hunger in our bountiful world. I am not thankful for the greed, for the sloth, and the bad public policies that foster it.

 

I am not thankful for willful ignorance, for anti-rational, anti-intellectual, demagoguery. I am not thankful for the cultural relativism that has promoted it, for anti-objectivism, for liars. I am not thankful for Donald Trump. I am not thankful for my fellow Americans who voted for him. I am not thankful for anyone seeking a job in his administration, seeking to legitimize him in any way.

 

I am not thankful for the media outlets, the reporters, the editorialists who failed to take him seriously. I am not thankful that they abdicated their responsibilities.

 

I am not thankful that ninety-million people did not vote.

 

I am not thankful that the things I have listed so far, the things that I am not thankful for did not change from last year at all.

 

I am not thankful that there is so much more to add.

 

I am not thankful that environmental crisis developing in North Dakota, the harm being done to protesters, the abrogation of Treaty Rights and the lands of a sovereign nation. I am not thankful for the militarized police response taken against Americans.

 

I am not thankful for the continuing water crises in Flint Michigan.

 

I am not thankful for the shortsightedness of liberals and progressives who cannot stand united in the face of social forces that threaten us all.

 

Did I say that I am not thankful for white supremacists? I did, but let me say it again…I am not thankful for them or their apologists, their soft supports or their ardent advocates. I am not thankful that they have a seat at the table in the administration of a future President Trump.

 

I am not thankful for them.

 

They suck.

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