Not much to post today, since it’s a fairly significant holiday.
I’ve updated the Short Stories page to include a few that were somehow left out of the line-up. This weekend I plan to do the same for the Serialized Fiction page, in order to make this a more upfront and interactive part of the website. I’ll go further into the reasoning later, but the spark of it was the realization that I write far more than I let people read, and that’s not a generous or winning strategy in any light.
But for today, let me just say Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers, Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish readers, Happy Ascension Day to my Bahá’i readers! Instead of a post on literature, I’ll repost this Thanksgiving message from a now-defunct political blog:
Some cynics are dismissive of the Thanksgiving holiday, noting the tragic conflicts that resulted in the ruin of the Wampanoag and other indigenous peoples of North America. Others, traditionalists, would dismiss the significance of these conflicts — at least for one Thursday in November — in order to celebrate a day of gratitude.
But, although these two viewpoints may seem mutually exclusive, there is no reason to dismiss either the holiday or the history. Moments of cooperation, civilization, and community should be remembered not instead of the enveloping reality of war and strife, but in defiance of it.
Just a few thousand years ago, the reality of human life was dominated by conflict across the planet’s entire surface. The portion of the world where any one person could travel unmolested encompassed the few square miles that his or her extended family controlled through brute force. Outside of one’s tiny, immediate culture group of a few dozen people, violence was the norm and humane treatment the exception.
In those days, the vast majority of humanity could be assumed to be mortal enemies.
Today, however, we assume that the entire globe is safe unless specifically identified as a high risk area by some government agency or international organization. This is an incredible achievement of civilization, and one that continues to progress, year by year, despite momentary setbacks and aberrations.
This progress would not have been possible but for two complementary factors: the hope that harmony and civilization are possible, and the understanding that conflict and violence are probable. Cynical dismissal of our moments of community, like that between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag on the first Thanksgiving, sabotages the progress of civilization with jaded hopelessness. Cowardly dismissal of the inevitable conflicts, like the devastation of the pre-Columbian peoples of North America, sabotages the progress of civilization with juvenile fantasy.
Thanksgiving has its fullest meaning when we celebrate it as the possibility of good in the threatening presence of evil, a celebration of our hope for peace despite the acknowledged reality of strife. In this light, both the thankful and the solemn aspects of this holiday can be celebrated side-by-side.
Have a Warm and Joyous Thanksgiving!