Thanksgiving | Guillaume Druel

The Working Catholic: Thanksgiving by Bill Droel

I’m at a disadvantage in our Mr. Baseball contest. Every March, we pick the teams that will make the playoffs and predict which ones will go the furthest. My problem is the Astros. They’ve already won the AL West but I didn’t pick them because of the trash can incident. They weren’t punished enough, in my opinion. I carry my attitude towards cheaters to the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. If the drug addicts ever get a plaque there, my donations to the Hall will stop.

Complacency or moralism is a strong current in our culture. I suspect the Judgment Strain isn’t found so much in other places. Live and let live or QEU Sera is the idiom elsewhere.

Our culture is funny. It is libertine on the surface while Arab cultures and many others are restrained on the surface. Yet if someone strays into our culture, they are belittled. They cannot win an election or host a radio/TV show. They cannot hold an important position in a church or play football. Unless the transgressor goes through a scripted process.

Our culture’s reaction to deviance is not hard and fast. In some cases, we welcome some type of repentance – lots of grief, television appearances, a round of sensitivity training perhaps. In fact, some celebrities with declining fame have deliberately staged a scandal for the sake of a “please forgive me” second act. Or so it seems.

Also, in our country, some bad behavior is tolerated in some subcultures, but not in others. Different norms are at play for men or for certain groups. Hypocrisy is routinely taken for granted in one place, but quickly exposed in another.

Gratitude is the conscious acknowledgment that assembly line workers put the parts of my car together, allowing me to travel; that others have built and maintain the roads I drive; that tradesmen built the house which shelters my family; that God has put the necessary ingredients in the universe that allow life; that my own unique life is a gift. Gratitude is not just the daily acknowledgment of gifts, but also grace toward those gifts and some expression of thanksgiving. Thank you waiters, postmen, spouse, friends, grocery clerks and God.

The opposite of gratitude is resentment. It stems from low self-esteem and results in judgmental attitudes. In our country, we sometimes resent the elites. We assume they succeed by taking shortcuts. The well-paid Astros cheat. The multi-millionaire, top three single-season home run point guards (all in the National League) reportedly used steroids. Although we despise the rich, our resentment also makes us look like them. We want to have a side agreement here and there.

We more often resent people who we think are a step down and who we believe are advancing at our expense. We resent those few families in our area who use a Section Eight voucher, paid for by our tax dollars. We resent refugees from Central America or Venezuela who simply show up uninvited and then receive tax-funded social services. Is not it?

In all cases of resentment, we neglect to thank all those who have allowed us to move forward. Resentment poisons the soul. It also corrupts our society and our economy. This causes polarization. Then, stoked by demagogues using incendiary rhetoric, resentment turns into violent conflict.

Are there opportunities to eliminate resentment from our culture? Thanksgiving is meant to be a time of gratitude and fellowship. Some people start the day with grateful worship, although fewer than 20 years ago. The other public Thanksgiving Day event is football. Many fans attend or watch one or more of the three NFL games that will be played on November 24, 2022. Could there be another time of year for a public expression of thanksgiving? What could actually remove some resentment? Suggestions are welcome.

Droel edits a newsletter on faith and work: INITIATIVES (PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629)

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