On Giving Thanks

22Nov07

While this day is not so different than so many others, to the extent we feel like we are under siege — fending off sickness and financial ruin and political censure at every turn — as we survey our past and contemplate what lies ahead, we are grateful for many things. Such as? Well, life could have been so much worse, for example, had we been born a Republican, a conservative of almost any stripe, or if we counted ourselves among the unthinking hordes who belong to the religious right. We could have been born a “libertarian,” one of those sad creatures who would deny the brilliant power of the city and the government’s fundamental role in harnessing this power for us, its people, so that we will not devolve into anarchy. Or even worse, we could have been a shrill, soulless atheist who refuses to believe that the world extends far beyond what we can ever see, and that no matter how bright and wide the light of science can ever extend, there will always be the darkness of night in the shadows beyond. We could have believed in a benevolent god, when one glance at the history books or the front page of The Times proves otherwise. Or we could still be a liberal or a progressive or a communist, someone who takes to the streets with the idea that society will be markedly better once ____ gets elected in November, or if such-and-such law gets passed by the local, state or federal legislature. Or we could have been proud to be an American, or gay, or a New Yorker, or someone who works for a living, or part of any such community defined by political or economic expediency.

But fortunately none of that has come to pass, and as we sit down to dinner with a kind soul who offers us a Clementine — candy sweet and easy to peel — we are also grateful not to be alone.

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