Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

By Siegrid Raible

I have been struggling with what passes as news in America these days – one mass murder event after another.  We began October with one American shooting other Americans at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, Nevada; 59 people were murdered and 546 others were wounded. We ended the month with another American driving a pick-up truck on a bike/pedestrian path in a celebrated park in New York City; over a one mile stretch eight were left for dead while twenty others were injured.  Just five days later 26 Americans were murdered and 20 others wounded by a disturbed American who shot-up a church in a small Texas town.  And the violence continues unabated in single and mass incidences.  What are we to make of these tragedies?

For guidance I sometimes pick up the Bible and let it fall open to a passage.  I picked up the Bible the other day and it fell open to The Book of Lamentations.  A book written in the sixth century BC, it talks about an age of crisis, in this case the destruction of the temple and the fall of Jerusalem.  It describes the profound grief of a suffering community.  One passage reads:  “Look, O Lord, upon my distress:  all within me is in ferment, my heart recoils within me from my monstrous rebellion.  In the streets the sword bereaves, at home death stalks.”  For me, it seems that some twenty-five hundred years later we are as distressed as that sixth century witness.  We too lament the loss of life and the destruction of our beloved communities.

Then a few days later I came across an article about Scott Kelly, the American astronaut who spent a year on the International Space Station circling our blue-dot of a planet.  He recently wrote a book about his adventure called “Endurance, A Year in Space” in which he celebrates the community of man.  He reminds us that his adventure would not have been possible without the cooperation and “the work of 15 different countries over 18 years, and thousands of people speaking different languages and using different engineering methods.  In some cases, the stations modules never touched one another on Earth, but they all fit together perfectly.”  

So what ties the Book of Lamentations, an astronaut’s year in space and mass murders together?  The common thread is the sorrow and joy we feel when momentous events occur.  So on this Thanksgiving Day when families and friends gather together for the one celebration I particularly enjoy because there’s only one thing we are called upon to do – show up with our appetites in tow to share a communal meal with family or friends – let us remember both the sorrows and joys.

Some of us will remember those who are no longer with us.  Others will celebrate those who have met and overcome challenges and return to our table with tales of wonder.  While we sit around our tables this year let us also commit ourselves to the living.  Let us commit ourselves to finding those commonalities upon which to build that better future we all desire.  Let us remember that like all those involved in the construction of the International Space Station, it will take the combined talents and abilities of all of us to find solutions to the seemingly intractable problems we face today.  


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