Sunday, November 10, 2013

FEAST and FAMINE

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Native American resistance leader Metacomet


Here's a thought: This Thanksgiving, you might want to give thanks that you weren't/aren't a victim of the white rampage through the Americas that began in the 15th century and resulted in the vast torture, death and exploitation of the indigenous peoples.

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                              By Rafael Martínez Alequín 
 
As we approach Thanksgiving 2013,  Your Free Press takes this 
opportunity to wish all its readers a happy Thanksgiving. It is a cliché,
 but true nonetheless, that our attention is too much diverted by turkey 
and mythology when it should be focused on gratitude. It is human to
 react with thanks when life goes well, just as it is natural to curse 
one's fate when tribulation strikes. 
 
Godly men and women turn into atheist, at least temporarily, after 
watching thousands of children starve. Lottery winners and 
late-inning home-run hitters attribute their good luck to the personal
 intervention of the "Good Lord." 
 
It is easy to focus on what we lack, especially in these days of 
lowered expectations. We don't have, and probably never will have, 
the prosperity that seems to be our parents' and our own birthright 
back in the 1950s and '60s. It takes two incomes to buy what one use 
to provide. Even so, we live as only a very small percentage of the 
human race has ever been privileged to live. Royalty has gotten by 
as paupers by comparison. Yet, most of humanity does not live in 
such plenty. Million in this country and elsewhere do not have
 enough to eat. Others live under daily threat of death from their 
governments or from the forces of a foreign government because of 
the political opinions they hold or are suspected of holding.
Some here in America do not suffer these deprivations. Although we
 now know, all of us are under surveillance. Also, we would be 
naive if we didn't recognize that all too many of us are ill-nourished 
or  subject to racial and political harassment, and worse. Across this 
country, hundreds of thousands are homeless,thanks to the policies of
  both local and federal governments. Surely we ought to give some 
thought to the ill-housed and homeless, to the hungry and the  
brutalized, even those of us who can reflect on our own good luck. 
What joy can there be that some few have prosperity if oneself or a 
neighbor down the block, or in Brooklyn or in Haiti or in Central and
  South America or Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Guantanamo, is 
deprived of  the basic necessities or tortured for her or his political 
beliefs?

We can turn away from all of this, just as we eventually must turn away from the television when one too many emaciated Africans or mutilated Mexicans have been put before us. Portraits of happy Pilgrims sitting down to dinner with their happy Indian brothers and sisters seem more appropriate to the season. How much guilt can we expected to bear? Is it our fault we were born into a dominant culture? Must we always be reflecting on the sins of our ancestors and elected officials?
Of course, the answer is no. Life would not be bearable if we had to wear mental hairshirts all the time. Life is to be lived, enjoyed, reveled in. This is a lesson we can learn from the saints, both religious and secular: Those who do the most good seem to enjoy themselves the most. Enjoy not just the virtue they practice but all the other good things of life—food, love, intellect, companionship—the entire range of possibility open to human experience. They show us that we have nothing to fear from our own compassion. It does not diminish but enlarges our life. How much greater our joy could be, then, if on Thanksgiving Day, or any other time, we can say that we have tasted the full of life, the joys of our own mind and flesh as well as the happiness and  pain of others. That, surely, would be something to be thankful for.

Here in our city this thanksgiving we can be grateful after 12-years of Michael Bloomberg’s administration it will be over on December 31. Welcome Mayor De Blasio.
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