Guilty Thanks

Holiday rose is a small miracle _ like much of life _ except that no miracles are truly small.
  • I was raised a good solid Episcopalian.  I dutifully attended weekly church, my parents unconcerned with religion at home.  November Sundays would echo Thanksgiving hymns from stone walls, sermons would focus on our undeserved blessings.  “I have done those things I ought not to have done and left undone those things I ought to have done and there is no health in me.”  A solid and lasting rebuke to hubris.
  • I have sometimes been infected by my local culture,  believing that I am responsible for my good fortune and wonderful life.  I staunchly bellow how hard I have worked for everything I now enjoy.  The sin of envy creeps upon me as I regard neighbors or media phantoms better rewarded with less effort.  I wax wrathful as the unworthy are enriched, and the worthy (guess one I consider myself) are denied their due.
  • Sanity sometimes returns, and I acknowledge that almost all I have is the result of good fortune.  Born into the right family at the right time and place, blessed with good health and a stable society, lucky in love and career.  Following such meditation, my only remaining emotion is guilt.
Bittersweet accents this season, more prominent each day as surrounding foliage drops away.
  • Humans are born helpless, but most have capacity to gain godlike powers over their first decades.  Yet wealth and opportunity and the possibility of happiness are unfairly spread.  How much guilt should I feel?  What should I do to ameliorate reality?  I believe in protected public property (what used to be called “the commonwealth”),  strong government to protect basic human rights, and minimal levels of economic and social security (food, clothing, shelter) for everyone at all times.   
  • True psychopaths are rare _ most people easily relate to others.  Our major difficulty has always been that we also easily form small tribes to exclude and ignore everyone else.  Various rationalizations are always provided for such divisions, very few logical to a naïve outside observer.   Tribes remain the largest human problem of this age and how we handle them may determine if our species survives.
Quiet dirt road through woods evokes eighteenth century _ oops, wait, my cell phone is ringing.
  • We mythologize the first Thanksgiving, forgetting that Pilgrims and Puritans were what we would now call cultist weirdos,  who believed that all mankind except a few predestined “elect” were condemned to everlasting hell no matter what they did.  Our current celebration has none of that fervor, and tries to be a time when we are happy with what we have.  That too, is a mythologized counterthought to our daily belief _ which is that we must always strive to be better, and we will eventually get what we deserve, and we are to be judged by what we accomplish or accumulate.
  • People do strive for their own and the common good, which is a fine thing.  Capitalism has proved one way to reward economic roles appropriately so that material comforts increase.  Whether actual people temporarily filling certain roles should be so much wealthier than others is an increasingly puzzling question.
  • I wonder when enough is too much, whether anyone’s quality of life is indeed measured by the quantity of goods privately owned _ or even by how many or how powerful their deeds of creation or destruction.   I have found it much easier to redirect sources of happiness than to try to fulfill impossible strivings.  Sunset, moonglow, autumn leaves are still, thankfully, free.  Am I truly happier playing a phone videogame than spending an hour with nature?
  • I remain most thankful that I can still freely contemplate such things, in almost absolute comfort and joy.

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