Civil Discourse and Thanksgiving

Common Discourse is deteriorating.

Confrontation is the norm.

Politeness has flown out the window.

Common courtesy no-longer good form.

Manners are deemed old-fashioned.

We have civil discourse, laid low.

Oh Woe!

A better way is needed; to consider other’s points of view and express differences in a calm and respectful way and not by making a spectacle of yourself and causing feelings of discomfort in others.  Lecturing and bullying, especially with an acid tongue is never OK. Children in past generations would get their mouths washed out with soap if a spoken profanity was ever heard.

Judith Martin who writes under the pen name Miss Manners once wrote that laws and regulations have to be made when people have forgotten or never learned how to behave; how to treat people fairly, kindly and respectfully. The trouble with laws and regulations is that they cannot take into account nuances or common sense.  So much better if people just treated each other fairly, kindly and with respect. Hollering, attacking people verbally and physically is not civil discourse.

Celebrating differences kindly and respectfully is what Americans do. Our celebration of Thanksgiving is our real national holiday. In a popular movie “The Blind Side,” the well-off family takes in and eventually adopts a young homeless black teenager who has gone in and out of the school system his whole life.  Thanksgiving happens shortly thereafter and the store-bought feast is set out; the father and children fill their plates and sit in front of the football game on TV. The young man takes a meager helping and goes and sits in the dining room alone. The mother sees this and goes and turns off the TV and tells her family to pick up their plates and go to the dining room and take a seat at the table with their guest, at which she offers a prayer of thanks for their feast.

According to history or story the Pilgrims who were very dependent on what food they could grow invited their neighboring American Indian friends to the first Thanksgiving meal. The Indians brought some of their food to share and they broke bread together.

When I was living in the Scholarship House during college, our Sunday dinner before Thanksgiving was a Turkey Dinner. There were three students from Thailand who lived in a house right across the street from ours. They spoke English and we had gotten to know them a little. We decided to invite them to our Thanksgiving meal. They frankly turned us down saying that it was an ugly bird and they weren’t going to eat it. dg00081We said it’s not an ugly bird. They said yes, it is. We went back into the house and talked about it and decided that maybe yes it was an ugly bird and we laughed at ourselves. No rock throwing. The meal turned out pretty good even though we cooked it ourselves and most of us didn’t know how to cook. (Photo:  State of Florida Archives/Williams – Wild Turkey at Fisheating Creek).

The Pilgrims who came here to a new land, endured a long ocean voyage, and faced a harsh winter. They had to make homes and grow food. They were very religious and trusted that God would sustain them. They had rough times but they endured. We should remember that even with all our differences, America has lasted a couple of centuries as free men who are sovereign and govern themselves without dictators or royalty.  We are a mystery to the world. Our liberty along with our land and each other are our true blessings.

3 thoughts on “Civil Discourse and Thanksgiving”

  1. Good on ya, Joanne. Keep praying for the land of the free and the home of the brave. Too many people don’t quite seem to understand how valuable freedom really is, and how brave we have to be to keep it. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
    Sally & Al & Susan

  2. Joanne,
    How right you are, even with our own kids. The other day I asked my son what he thought made folks believe the way they do. I decided that since I wanted to learn something it was not the time to try to teach him anything so I just listened. I learned a lot about the way he thinks which is, afterall, what I was after. Hopefully, he also learned that a pleasant exchange of ideas can happen. It will take me time to learn to keep my ideas to myself until I’m asked. I guess I never will get so old that I know all the answers. Merry Christmas to both you and Pete as well as your son and his family. Stan

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