'Giving Thanks' Day

For Your Consideration

Alan CheahNovember 21, 2012 

'Giving Thanks' Day. Perhaps that is what Thanksgiving Day should be renamed.

It would be interesting to know how Americans respond when asked what Thanksgiving Day means to them. I know that when I was growing up, even though I studied American History, Thanksgiving Day conjured up thoughts of football, a gathering of friends and family, brothers and sisters coming home from college, brown plump turkeys, and a tryptophan feast.

Sure, before gorging ourselves, some indulged in a brief ritual of expressing what we were thankful for. But that was not the centerpiece of our consciousness. Maybe calling it "Giving Thanks" day might bring it back into focus.

I'm no expert on the historical significance of Thanksgiving but according to American history texts, it was to celebrate the first successful harvest of the pilgrims. There are many different religious and historical interpretations about Thanksgiving. I'll leave it to my counterparts to sort that out.

Even if we can't agree on a definitive answer we should, on that day, pay homage to the bounty given us by God's earth.

On Nov. 10, I, my wife and some friends attended 350.org's "Do the Math" tour in Palo Alto. It was the fifth stop of the 21 city tour led by Bill McKibben. Yes, it was about that 'hoax' -- global climate change. Many in the U.S. have rapidly become believers, particularly after Hurricane Sandy.

After the event, our gracious friends invited us for an overnight stay on their boat docked at the Breakwater Cove marina in Monterey Bay. The following morning I woke to a world of wonder: barking sea lions perched at the end of the pier; pelicans doing kamikaze style dives in search of breakfast; otters feeding and playing; crabs meandering on the rocks edge and egrets performing aerial symphonies.

It was a perfect day. The water was pristine and the coastline magnificent. On this 'Giving Thanks' Day I can't help but think that this too is the rich bounty of the earth.

It's not enough to give thanks in the form of vocal appreciation. On this 'Giving Thanks' Day shouldn't we be thinking about our obligation as stewards of the earth?

Looking back, humans have raped, ravaged and pillaged this planet for great profit without giving much back. It is now very sick and we have to heal it. It was poetic justice that right after Mitt Romney mocked, "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans. And to heal the planet," the oceans did rise. Was God sending a message to Mitt Romney and god-fearing deniers?

Being ensconced in places like Monterey Bay or being sheltered in the splendor of the mountains is a mixed blessing. It's a situation of out of sight, out of mind. It may contribute to the cavalier and dismissive attitude toward global climate change.

In a span of three days in April 2011, there were 358 confirmed tornados across the U.S. and Canada. We've had natural disasters before but the frequency and intensity have never been so pronounced. Sandy was unprecedented in its size and location costing upwards of $60 billion and 128+ lives.

Remember Katrina. One-third of the city of Joplin, Missouri was wiped out by a tornado.

The great drought of 2011 covered fourteen states. It was so severe that it was compared to the 'Dust Bowl' of the 1930s. Another piece of irony is that it hit states with a predominance of global warming deniers.

Does our mountain community have to be plagued by drought or devoured by wildfires before we heed the warning of these events? On this 'Giving Thanks' day let's save this bounty and show our thanks by pledging to get active in healing the planet.

If you are a denier and a senior why not step aside and let the younger generation decide their own fate. We won't be here to suffer the consequences.

If you are that younger generation and a denier, wake up. There is no reset button if you make the wrong decision. Go to 350.org to learn more about what is happening across the globe and how you can participate in any little way possible.

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