She was telling me making friends hasn’t been easy in her new middle school. We’ve all been there and remember it’s a challenging stage of life for many middle school-aged students. The stress students feel adjusting socially and emotionally is serious business not to be taken lightly. Initially, she identified all these differences she saw in other students. I nudged her to find those things they have in common and learn to appreciate and value the diversity of her classmates’ cultures, families and experiences.
I’d like to nudge you to embrace those sentiments as well, as you gather with family and friends this week. It was more than 150 years ago during one of the most tumultuous times in our nation’s history that President Abraham Lincoln wrote the Thanksgiving Day proclamation (1863) creating this national holiday we celebrate the last Thursday of November. In the midst of a country bitterly divided, Lincoln implored Americans to offer thanksgiving for the blessings and benefits in our country.
No matter what side of the political aisle you sit on, how much money you have in the bank, what level of education you have or what your faith is, I believe there are far more values and ideals that bind us than set us apart.
It’s not hard to come up with a list of values and ideals common to Americans of every hue, religion and station in life.
- Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness
- Justice for all
- Families are the fabric of the country
- Everyone should have opportunity to pursue dreams regardless of who we are, where we live, where we come from
- We want our children to be safe, healthy, educated and successful in life
- We want safe communities where our families can live in peace
- Hard workers should be able to provide for their families
- Families should be self-sufficient and economically secure
- We owe compassion on the oppressed, less fortunate and down-trodden
- We should treat others as we want to be treated – the golden rule
- Strong, economically secure families make for a stronger nation
- Children should not die of starvation or treatable medical conditions
I could list more and I’m sure you can too, but that’s enough to make my point.
At Thanksgiving Day gatherings this week you may feel drawn into some political debate by a relative hoping to get a rise out of you. Don’t take the bait.
Instead, reflect on the values you share with people at your table. Focus on the shared ideals that we have as Americans and offer prayers of Thanksgiving.
And in light of recent events, heeding Lincoln’s admonishment from that very proclamation is needed today more than ever.
“…and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”