By Dr. Lester Edwin J. Ruiz
Thanksgiving is about “there is enough for all” not “There is abundance for my tribe.” It is about doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God and each other (Micah 6.8).
On September 27, 2013, a colleague of mine wrote:
“All the best as you become a US citizen today. this is a country with huge faults and great freedom of opportunity. I wish it were as virtuous a country as you deserve.”
On Thanksgiving that year, he followed up with another note:
“I wanted to take a moment on this Thanksgiving Day to congratulate you, once again, on your American citizenship.
Thanksgiving is a more American holiday for me than the fourth of July. It is a holiday that remembers the struggles of settlers who came to New England and who survived their first year.
It is a holiday that, at its root, celebrates that there was enough—not abundance, but enough to get through the coming winter.
If the myth has truth in it, the survival was in part due to the assistance of native persons, so, before the white excesses of manifest destiny and the current materialist preoccupations of current Americans, there was an inclination to give thanks for enough and to share that gratitude with native Americans.
If there is an American myth that I most cherish, it is this one. If there were a way to characterize the best in this country, it is this one…
I have a perception of the practical reasons why you pursued citizenship, but I have a deeper hunch about the internal philosophical struggle that you went through in making the decision.
There are deep reasons to be American, I would encourage you to adopt this holiday as your national citizenship holiday. You are a great gift… and you are one of the blessings for which I am thankful today… It makes me a more proud citizen to know that a person like you chose my country.”
As America—and the world—steps into a deeply divided future today, the wisdom of my colleague is worth remembering, along with the prayer, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
I refer here to the sin of injustice, viciousness, and arrogance of power and privilege in its many forms, including those we often do not recognize in ourselves.
“…And what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8, KJV)
PHOTO CREDIT: Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. via Flickr Creative Commons License