This Thanksgiving Day follows an exhausting national election with supporters of victorious candidates pleased with the results. Others in our country mourn the defeat of their chosen candidates. Perhaps all sides can admit to having some relief with a break in any further campaign commercials being aired repeatedly both day and night. Support for one candidate instead of another may have divided families and friends, whether these friends are known personally or only recognized through social media. Bitter and hurtful words may have been expressed about a candidate with equally vitriolic words reserved for the supporters of one candidate by the followers of a rival candidate. The supporters of triumphant candidates may eagerly anticipate the goals and objectives they support being translated into public policy. Those people who supported now vanquished candidates may dread what those of the opposite party who obtained power in the election will do once officially in office.
The Chaplains might remind us of how temporary campaigns for Earthly offices are compared to eternal matters by reminding us of the words of Jesus Christ from Matthew 22:21 “…Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”. Also, they would likely remind us of the importance of thanksgiving with the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God”.
As we observe the post-election unrest this Thanksgiving I wonder, with all the noise generated, if Americans will still take time to thank God for all the many blessings in our lives. Even if your selected candidate did not win the office, consider these things: the freedoms you enjoy as Americans are still protected from Islamic terrorists and other foreign enemies by our military personnel, just as the veterans protected our freedoms in days past. Our law enforcement members, firefighters, and emergency medical service workers are still ready to risk their lives to protect and maintain domestic tranquility in our communities. You are free to attend any house of worship (or none at all if you so choose), practice any faith of your choice, watch any television program, listen to any radio station, read any book, newspaper or magazine of your choice. Be thankful for the blessings of freedoms you enjoy! Such freedoms Americans have are not universally acknowledged or practiced in many nations on Earth. Do not let a small finite matter like election results destroy families and friendships. Such things are too precious to be lost because of politics. Be thankful that you can still have family and friends long after someone’s term of office is over. Terms of office are temporary. Families and friendships, if properly maintained, can last a lifetime.
In some ways, those lawfully protesting the election of the next President of the United States have a further reason to be thankful. They are able to express their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and right to peaceably assemble without fear of being rounded up by the government, imprisoned, tortured or executed. However, the First Amendment protections mentioned above do NOT include the rights to commit arson, destroy property or loot. Thus, those protestors engaging in such acts are abusing the First Amendment as a license for lawlessness instead of a guarantee of liberties. Their actions mock the blood that was shed to secure our freedoms.
A poem I shared a few years ago may be a good reminder to be thankful, given all the clamor of post-election protests. May the simple yet profound points of this poem resonate loud and clear above the shouts of victorious parties and the angry cries of those who supported defeated candidates. May this poem remind us, as Americans, to thank God for blessings, both small and large, some of which this poem illustrates:
I Am Thankful…
For the wife who says it’s hot dogs tonight, because she is home with me and not out with someone else.
For the husband who is on the sofa being a couch potato, because he is home with me and not out at the bars.
For the teenager who is complaining about doing dishes because it means she is at home not on the streets.
For the taxes I pay because it means I am employed.
For the mess to clean up after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
For the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.
For the shadow that watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.
For a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
For all the complaining I hear about the government because it means we have freedom of speech.
For the parking space I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking and I have been blessed with transportation.
For my huge heating bill because it means I am warm.
For the lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means I can hear.
For the pile of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes to wear.
For weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been capable of working hard.
For the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means I am alive.
May the points of this poem have unanimous agreement by the citizens of our country as to their level of importance, regardless of individual political persuasion. Perhaps reminders such as this poem provides will help us to live out the words in our Pledge of Allegiance “One nation, under God, Indivisible…”
William E. Plants,
Chaplaincy Program Coordinator