By Susan Stamper Brown
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln called a nation divided by war to join together in a time of corporate thanksgiving and repentance when he proclaimed that Americans “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Lincoln went on to recommend they offer up “the ascriptions justly due” to God “for such singular deliverances and blessings … with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience … and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
And a national Thanksgiving Day was birthed, wherein those having much, little, or in-between, gather around the table with loved ones, friends and maybe even Fido (hopefully underneath), to carry on this great American tradition.
As the old hymn goes, we have much to praise the “God from whom all blessings flow.” America has problems. Even still, the good in her outweighs the bad — thanks to those who understand from whom their blessings come, and then pay it forward to those in need. A thankful heart is also a giving heart.
Sadly, also among us are those who are frozen in time and fail to see the bountiful blessings flowing all around them. In an Alternet.com article, “No Thanks to Thanksgiving,” University of Texas Professor Robert Jensen wrote that America should replace Thanksgiving Day with “a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting” because “it is the day when the dominant white culture (and, sadly, most of the rest of the non-white but non-indigenous population) celebrates the beginning of a genocide that was, in fact, blessed by the men we hold up as our heroic founding fathers.”