Drawing from Pinterest
I love the holiday season. There is something special about coming together with friends and family, and celebrating each other, our faiths, and all our other blessings. As I walk down the hallways at the elementary school where I work, the bulletin boards are currently overflowing with colorful, construction paper turkeys, where students write on the feathers or the bodies about what they are thankful for. The kids generally keep it pretty simple. My mom and dad. Mashed potatoes. My dog. My teachers. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Sadly, the adults in our nation don’t always seem to be able to enjoy the “little things” (which are actually big things). I was listening to NPR yesterday, and they were discussing how the majority of Americans in a recent poll said they were dreading conversation around the table at Thanksgiving because they didn’t want to talk politics. As an individual without a lot of immediate family, that made me depressed. I didn’t agree with my parents on every single topic, but I would trade every holiday for the rest of my life to have another conversation with them. What is wrong with our society as a whole when we so easily can cast aside our commonalities with friends and family to argue? I’m not suggesting that we should be doormats to those we care about, but perhaps we have become more intolerant and/or “stretched thin” when it comes to political conversations.
I reflect on other issues that I see during the holidays. People trample over one another on Black Friday. There are physical altercations over parking spaces at stores. Many children simply wonder about what they will receive during the holidays, as opposed to what they can give to others. The spirit of our holiday season (at least in my mind) should be a time of reflection, gratitude, humility, and kindness. For people of faith, it is traditionally a time to serve and celebrate. Unfortunately, each year, I feel as though that spirit slips further and further away from many Americans.
What is going on in our nation? We so easily ignore the big picture of the holiday season and focus on ourselves. Our principle of independence has been taken to the extreme and has become selfishness. This is modeled in our capitalistic system which seems to flaunt, “Whoever has more (money, material items, etc.), IS more”. One only needs to look at wealthy and famous individuals who have fallen exceedingly short of perfection to see that is not true. One only needs to look at you. But the myth continues to be perpetrated.
You are one of the individuals who exemplifies almost everything I see wrong with our nation, and these faults are exacerbated during the holidays. I don’t hear you expressing gratitude or humility. I remember when President Obama was in office, and how frequently he referred to those close to him (his wife, daughters, vice president, etc.) when speaking about his role as president. He gave them credit for loving and supporting him, and enabling him to do one of the toughest jobs in the country. Whether you like President Obama or not, that is not an opinion statement. He directly shared his appreciation for others, and even did so with people across political lines. You have done the exact opposite. You continue to praise certain individuals (basically anyone who agrees with you), while making derogatory statements about nearly everyone else. You don’t thank your wife or children for being understanding; you refer to their “business abilities.” If you really wanted to “one up” our former president, you could be a little more heavy handed with the compliments.
This letter is meant to remind you that capitalism is NOT our God. The amount of money you make or spend is not any kind of indicator of your success or happiness, and it only adds to the fruits of the spirit when freely given to others. The way you treat other people is a much greater measure of a man or a woman. You, along with corporate CEOs, seem to have forgotten this most basic tenants of the holiday season (or life in general, really). I would direct your attention to Winston Churchill, who is touted for being an ardent and successful statesman. He stated, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” My hopes for you this holiday season is that you remember what we have in common, give freely to others (whether in acts or materials), and reflect on what is truly important in your life. I would hope you encourage other Americans to do the same. After all, if you asked your citizens to rate their priorities, I can almost guarantee that winning that argument with Uncle Fred about how unproductive your presidency has been won’t make the list.