Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy thanksgiving-- a patriotic message

Well, I didn't want the last thing that I posted before taking off to the middle east to be something as sad and disheartening (and political) as war crimes. As I have tried to let everybody know, I'm extremely busy with deadlines, wrapping my term up early in preparation for a solid month of work in what amounts to another world. Traveling to the middle east is one of those things that does cause me to count my blessings as an American.

And so, I thought it only appropriate that I should tell what I am thankful for and also make the distinction that cannot be made clearly enough between my unhappiness with the actions of my government and the love for my country, my home.

First of all, I couldn't be more thankful to simply have this experience we call life. I guess it's my way of saying "God first," on my thankful list as if by stating anything with the word God in it makes it clear. I don't pretend to know what God is, what shape or gender God takes. Aside from the statement made in Genesis that "God created man in his own image," I don't know whether that is to be taken metaphorically or if the maleness of that statement was just the writing style of the times-- even Jane Goodall, in the early part of her career, spoke of "man" when referring to humankind, Latin uses the plural male form of a noun when referring to male and female together in the plural form. But, what I do have is a profound sense that the mere fact that I can utter these thoughts about something as dark and intangible as what reason or madness is responsible for our existence and awareness of ourselves is in itself a miracle and one that I, in all of my Madisonian logic (if you knew my family you would know what I am talking about ), cannot solely attribute to a mere accident of physics. So, here's to being here. We have won the lottery and have at least a one way ticket on this ride (hats off to my buddhist friends) that we can be sure of. That, my friends, is something to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my family. I couldn't be luckier. We have the usual foibles of any family, the usual groans over this or that member that are the hallmarks of any good family. We aren't perfect but we love each other and more importantly, we accept each other. Shrinking that to the nucleus we have at home, I am blessed again. We love and fight and laugh like the best of them. We are loud in everything we do, but when we have a group hug, even the dog gets up on her hind legs and joins in.

And I am thankful for America. We are as corrupt as any country in the world but we have a couple of things that some countries do not. We have the right to say that out loud and to publish it here. We have the right to make change as a people, like we did in this last election that not only led to a paradigm shift of political power but the long overdue ousting of Donald Rumsfeld-- but we, as a people, got it done. We have checks and balances, investigators and prosecutors that bring down at least some of the rotten politicians. But, again I wax political and this is not exactly what I want to say. We have something even more important than that. We have the American Dream. I was flying on this same journey last year and seated next a man from Finland. And as we have lost the respect of most of the world there is always a little feeling of apology when you say that you are American abroad. He was quick to tell me how much he loved America and Americans. Then he said, "do you know why?" I asked him why and he said, "Because everybody has a plan. Everybody has a dream. Everybody is going to be rich or make it big and even if it doesn't happen they still have that dream and maybe next year. In Finland, if you are a carpenter you will probably be a carpenter and that's it." I hadn't really thought about it like that or maybe just assumed that's the way life was-- it certainly has been true for me and mine-- always scheming, always dreaming, going back to school or changing careers, writing novels or screenplays, holding out for "the plan" to work its magic. He gave me back a sense of what was great about being American.

So, heres to you, America, you sower of seeds, you conjurer of dreams. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all, whatever it may mean to you. And may peace find you on this day.

14 Comments:

At 7:01 PM , Blogger QuillDancer said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Tom. Safe travels. We will miss you.

 
At 5:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great thankful post. Have a good trip. As Quilly sadi, we will miss you.

 
At 4:04 PM , Anonymous jackie said...

Tom, again, Happy Thanksgiving. You have said a mouthful here. Have a great trip. Love you.

 
At 6:00 PM , Blogger Just Tom said...

Thanks guys, yer chokin' me up, here. It is awfully sad to leave. Last night, bonnie baby crawled up into my lap and snuggled her curly head under my chin and just held me so close, like she knew I was going to go and it just made me cry.

I will have internet over there so I'll keep in touch. T

 
At 6:38 PM , Anonymous cindra said...

I love you, Tom. I'm grateful for you and all of our yelling, and laughing and loving.

 
At 12:34 AM , Blogger Egan said...

Damn, I had a comment here and said something meaningful. Shoot, Blogger must have eaten it.

 
At 9:00 AM , Blogger Just Tom said...

Honey, thanks and I love you too.

Well, Egan, if you get brave, give it another try. But, I know the feeling. arrgh!

 
At 9:22 AM , Blogger O Ceallaigh said...

Be safe. Be courageous. Be productive. Above all, be alive.

And have somebody keep an eye on Quilly for me. She's terribly distracted lately ...

 
At 11:02 AM , Blogger The Grunt said...

Great post, Tom. I'm not embarrassed of being an American, so much as feeling like I need to explain that not everyone is all gung-ho for destruction here--explaining a whole lot of other things too. What your Finnish friend said is so true.

I guess I don't know where in the Middle East you are going, but have a fun, safe, and enlightening trip.

 
At 3:25 PM , Anonymous Kat said...

There is nothing so inspiring as a satisfied and happy man. Do have a safe trip and hurry back to the greatest country on earth, simply because we're free.

 
At 10:16 PM , Blogger Just Tom said...

OC, thanks and I will be safe. As for Quilldancer, I'll try to check in and harass her once in a while when I'm over there. Getting out of town is actually more time consuming than just being holed up on the job somewhere else.

Grunty, thanks for your well wishing. I'm off to Saudi Arabia as part of my American dream. I'm an artist and I performed 12,000 Sq. feet of murals over there throughout a private aquarium on the Red Sea. I have to go do maintenance on part of the exterior mural because they just put in a crocodile exhibit, which tore up one wall.

Kat, I really do think America is a great country and I wanted people to know that because I do a lot of political blogging. What's fired up my jets has been the war and that has made it harder to just let much of what happens in Washington go. But, all in all, we have a great country.

 
At 4:34 AM , Blogger bazza27 said...

Nice post Tom, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, have a safe trip, and keep on dreaming!

 
At 9:59 PM , Blogger Gye Greene said...

Tom,


Great post; particularly enjoyed the bit about being American, and the Finnish guy's perspective. Saved it to HD.

--GG

 
At 4:21 PM , Anonymous Anita said...

Wow, great post Tom. It put a smile on my face. I hope you are holding up well in the Middle East, and I look forward to reading more when you return.

 

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