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Point of View: Thanksgiving at the Ocean

Tue, 11/21/2023 - 18:16

It is Thanksgiving and I don’t know what to say. There is so much hate that you forget for a moment that there are things to be thankful for.

The classics teacher in “The Holdovers” said it was always thus, that it was no different in ancient times, that there’s always been the horrific and the sublime. There seems to be no getting beyond it, yet thinking about how to get beyond it seems to be the only thing that keeps us sane at such times. Otherwise, it’s an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and more.

Those who have been able to see beyond it, to move beyond it, of course, are exceedingly rare, people like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela in our era, and quite likely Robert Kennedy had he lived. They were on humanity’s side. They worked tirelessly toward reconciliation, and we, though lacking their vision, courage, and steadfastness, must ultimately work toward reconciliation too. We should, shortsighted though we are, try to be far-seeing.

I do not know if Thanksgiving, with families huddled together against the uncertainties of the world, is really the best thing, though it’s a consolation. Our hearts, as one of the rabbis said during a recent gathering at East Hampton’s Herrick Park, should at such dark times contain many rooms. Those hearts should be large enough, I understood her to say, to contain many thoughts, thoughts of justice and mercy, righteousness and reconciliation. Rage too, though we cannot let it consume us. We have seen what it has done and what it is doing.

It is Thanksgiving and I don’t know what to say.

I’ll go with Mary to the ocean and listen as it breathes.

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