Over the next few days, many of us will be gathering with friends or family to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. For some, these are difficult times because changes due to death or distance have disturbed our customs and leave us adrift in the midst of expected holiday cheer. If you find yourself without mooring this season, I wish you peace in your heart. Know that the winds of life continue to blow and there are new traditions awaiting creation when the time is right.
For others of us, impending gatherings are a source of stress resulting from differences of opinion in the larger group. Sometimes potential conflicts silence whole groups on controversial subjects. Sometimes there is a delightful ruckus. Sometimes there is a ruckus that is not so delightful. However, too often, I hear stories of folks who remain silent while another talks at length regarding views that the listener finds offensive.
My hope is that each of us can bring our whole selves to whatever gathering we might attend. This does not mean we have to force our way of thinking on others. We are well-advised to listen to others and to try to understand their perspectives, even if we are unlikely to agree with them. However, I do not think we are well-advised to remain silent in the face of language which advocates or perpetuates injustice, intolerance, or hatred. Silence is too often taken as agreement, both by the speaker and by other listeners. How alone we can feel when it seems we are the only one who thinks or feels as we do. A single person stating their disagreement may not change the speaker. It may, however, provide comfort and hope to another, more timid, listener.
One of the gifts for which we can be thankful is our religious tradition’s celebration of reason, freedom, tolerance, and love. May we express our gratitude for these by giving voice to our values wherever this holiday season finds us.