Thanksgiving 2021

This Thanksgiving there is much to be thankful for locally and globally.

Things to be thankful for locally for me: Two grandchildren who have turned 16, one who turned 21, one who is engaged to be married. A great relationship with my wife and family in general. Trips that were once impossible became possible – trips to Paris and Germany with dear friends, trip to Boston for history and sightseeing with younger granddaughter Madeline, trips to South Haven, Michigan and Salt Lake City, Utah with my sweetie Marion. Trips to visit my Mom for this Thanksgiving, trips to Germany to visit our family there. And a new baby in the family for the first time in 16 years: Emma Lotta, daughter of our godson and nephew Nils and his partner Anneke.  My sweetie Marion still loves me. 2021 is my fifth Thanksgiving since being diagnosed with cancer, so I am particularly thankful to be alive.

Things to be thankful for globally: Vaccines for COVID-19 have proved effective in the fight against this disease. There are some signs that the fever that has gripped public discourse in the USA may be near a breaking point. And some signs that the USA economy, after decades of being tipped in the favor of the very rich, may be tipping a bit back in favor of the workers. That’s a lot.

But it’s been a hard year as well.

My father passed away last spring after many years of decline due to Alzheimer’s. I am sad that he is gone, but relieved in a way that he is released from what Alzheimer’s did to him. Somewhere in the universe there is still present the energy of my father as the person who inspired me as a child. This past year one of the other people I most admire among all of the people I have known well during my lifetime passed away, as a result of his cancer. He did so at peace with himself and the universe. I am a much better person for having known him. While cancer cost him his mortal life, and me sadness, it is also true that our friendship was born out of our shared experience of cancer. Without cancer, we would never have become good friends. 

Hundreds of thousands of USA citizens and millions of people worldwide have died as a result of COVID-19. Some of the blame for the latter in the US goes to some of our political and media leaders. I mean of course leaders who claim to be Christian and yet have claimed that it is better to endanger your neighbors by not being vaccinated and not wearing masks than to inconvenience yourself somewhat so that others might live. The golden rule seems like such a simple thing in theory. Liberty means choice, but liberty does not come without responsibility. Sometimes liberty needs to mean the liberty to do the right thing as a citizen within a society. In the case of COVID-19 this comes down to the golden rule or Kant’s categorical imperative (take your pick) and being vaccinated. Nowhere in the Gospels is it recorded that Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane, said “My body, my choice”.

This year while we have seen some justice delivered in the justice system, in many cases that grab national headlines there are significant questions as to whether or not justice has been served. In some prominent cases the answer “justice was not served” comes with easier and seemingly better explanations than the answer “justice was served.”

Still, I’m alive, and if you are reading this you are alive. Being alive means hope for the next year. I remain thankful and hopeful for a better year next year for all of us – with as much or more to be thankful for.

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