As a kid, one of the card games I played with friends was “I Doubt It.” By high school and college, the same game was called something else, but it had the same meaning.
Our country is in a liminal state. People are filled with doubts and fear. Doubting and fearful over what has taken place in the past and doubtful and fearful for the future. In talking to some friends about all that is taking place, they began to sound like an old song made famous by Doris Day: “Que Sera Sera” (what will be will be).
In some ways that is as accurate a statement as any. What will be will be … but what we often forget is we have the power and the ability to shape that which will be. The future is shaped not by the government, nor a virus, it is shaped in the attitudes and behaviors each of us practice.
I think if we want to reshape our future, there is an attitude we need to all have the ability to exhibit … mutual respect. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, had it right in her hit “Respect.” We need to practice it in every aspect of our lives – at work, at home, at play, public and private. Families would be stronger; schools would see less violence, and race relations would see healing. Respect. Listen to one another. The words the person you are talking to have as much weight and validity as your own (at least in their eyes). Take a few minutes and listen to what is said. If nothing else comes out of the respectful dialogue, you now understand the heart and mind of another human being.
The second item to shape our future is a behavior which piggybacks on the first attitude: the ability to “agree to disagree.” The polarized point we are at now has been 40 years in the making. We have gradually lost our ability as a society to appreciate the person while totally disagreeing with their point of view. I have witnessed people who were once very close estrange themselves from one another due to opposing views. They were so headstrong that their way of seeing the world was the correct (and only) way that they were willing to rupture their relationship instead of just agreeing to disagree on that subject. It is so pervasive in our society that if you do not believe and see everything just like “‘me,” then we cannot have a relationship with each other. Sadly, that leads to a very lonely and bitter future.
As Americans, if we were to adopt this latter attitude, we could change our country and the world. It is the attitude of gratitude. We have a history of giving “thanks,” but we also have a history of taking what we want from others. I think (and feel) we need to return to the idea of giving thanks. Thanks for the resources we have. Thanks for the form of government we have. Thanks for the freedoms we have. Thanks for the freedom to worship. Thanks for all the gifts and graces we enjoy. While I wish you all a most blessed day of Thanksgiving, “thanksgiving” should not be confined to just one day out the year. Thanksgiving should be an attitude that colors every other attitude and behavior. Let’s change the world … Happy Thanksgiving!