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So What Exactly is Thanksgiving?

charleslb
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11/21/2010 2:23:18 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
So what exactly is Thanksgiving? Is it a religious or a patriotic holiday? Is it about being thankful to God or the Tao or the Dharma, etc. for the good things in our lives, or is it about being grateful to Uncle Sam and the American political and economic system for all that it's hypothetically bestowed upon us? Or is Thanksgiving a somewhat amorphous and confused hybrid holiday, combining nationalism and nondenominational religiosity?

Well, I think that the last description is pretty much accurate. Thanksgiving is a day in which we're all supposed to suspend our disbelief in and shelve our criticisms of the system we live under and blithely buy into the happy and patriotic fictions of American democracy and capitalism. And we're supposed to do so largely on the basis of a vaguely faith-based sense of gratitude.

Thanksgiving is kind of like the Fourth of July with a dose of religion. It's a day to affirm and celebrate the myth of a great middle-class nation with a turkey in every pot, and to send up hosannas to Heaven for the blessing of being a part of such a rich society.

Okay, so what's so wrong with or distressing about having one day in the year in which we're collectively willfully naïve about the socio-economic realities of our society? And what's so dangerous about grounding this naiveté in the idea of a Santa Claus-like God who has seen fit to favor the United States?

At the risk of sounding like a Grinch of sorts I'll give a couple of reasons to be guarded about joining in on the spirit of Thanksgiving. First of all, even if it's only for one day out of 365, cosigning the cruel lie that capitalism American style is a blessing in itself, and that its bounty trickles down sufficiently to the working class and the poor (which more and more these days are synonymous) does a disservice to those who aren't really receiving their share of the pumpkin prosperity pie.

In case you're not one of them and haven't heard of them, there's a demographic group that's always been with us in this land of many blessings, and lately their numbers feel like they're growing geometrically, I mean the working poor. How about a holiday to expressly recognize their plight, rather than one to reinforce the patriotic, feel-good falsehood that this is a country of economically solvent and succeeding people. Thanksgiving, alas, is the latter, a day to be spent in the pleasant illusion that everyone who's willing to work is getting along well enough. Sure, we realize that we're in a recession right now and that many working folks are struggling, but on Thanksgiving we look on the delusional bright side and tell ourselves that life is still hunky-dory in the good ole USA.

And this is indeed a serious disservice and unkindness to the broke, debt-ridden, bankrupt, recently-foreclosed-on, down-and-out, and bereft-of-any-tangible-blessings-to-be-thankful-for neighbors and fellow working people who unjustly have to pay the price for the greed of the favored few at the top of the economic food chain. The major players of big business and finance have their ill-gotten billions to be thankful for, and the rest of us are supposed to embrace simpleminded positivity and be grateful for their crumbs!

By inculcating in us the big lie that America's abundance is spread around well enough that we all have much to be thankful for Thanksgiving is complicit in perpetuating the poverty, economic inequality and injustice, and suffering that are real aspects of a great many people's lives. Thanksgiving is not just a nice, uplifting holiday, it's a part of our socio-cultural indoctrination to not see, hear, and speak the evils of American capitalism, to remain in societal denial and complacently allow an unfair and uncompassionate status quo to continue. Thanksgiving as we know it under capitalism is unprogressive.

What else, what else is there to say against that sacred cow of a holiday we innocently call Thanksgiving? Well, there's also the way it mixes nationalism and religion, how about that. Aside from the fact that Thanksgiving traces back to the holier-than-thou Puritans, it most definitely has a religious dimension and flavor. A religious dimension that blurs into and fuses with its patriotic spirit. Thus does Thanksgiving help to promote nationalism, and to intensify it for some people with the emotional force of religion. Historically this has sometimes manifested in a messianic patriotism that has been use to justify and fire up the public for this country's wars.

What else is so disturbing about bigamously loving both God and country? Is it just a matter of valuing the separation of church and state? No, there's a bit more to it. Nationalism and spirituality shouldn't mix not only because it's politically dangerous, but because it's spiritually contraindicated as well. Spirituality ideally is about inclusively and transcendentally expanding our concept of our identity, expanding it to the point that we identify with the life and beauty and wonder of all of Creation. Spirituality should take our sense of self outside of our puny ego, ethnic, and national selves, to the deepest inner reaches of our nature where we realize our connection with everyone and everything. And this in turn brings everyone and thing into our circle of caring and empathy. Everyone becomes our brother and sister, i.e., consideration and compassion becomes appropriate for all our fellow human beings and life forms.

But nationalism ignorantly works in a very different direction. Nationalism bogs our consciousness down in a small and separatist identity. Nationalism tells us that we're Portuguese, Dutch, American, etc., not a part of all reality, not brothers and sisters to every man, woman, child, and creature of the Earth. Nationalism to one degree or another isolates us from transcendence and from everyone who doesn't share our nationality. The spirit of nationalism and the spirit of spirituality are actually then quite anathema to each other and have no business mixing on Thanksgiving or any other day.

To mix them corrupts our understanding of the real nature of spirituality which not only sets back our spiritual growth, it also produces religions that serve the cultural function of indoctrinating people to accept and assimilate to their society and its status quo. Nationalized religions become instruments of a society's power structure, they're used to make the masses resign themselves to their lot in life, and to teach them to respect "authority" and do its bidding, even to the extreme of going off and dying in wars they have no stake in. And yes, harmless little ole Thanksgiving feeds into all of this!

Thanksgiving is not just about tradition and wholesomeness and appreciating what you have, it's about being trained to lower your critical intellectual defenses against the BS of our society, it's about seducing us to accept the flimflam of American capitalism and democracy in a spirit of patriotism and gratitude, it's about being conditioned to casually consent to the unofficial socio-economic hierarchy that's established itself in our "land of liberty" and even pay homage to it, and Thanksgiving is about bastardizing our spirituality with nationalism with both spiritually and politically negative consequences.

I won't even go off on a tangent here about how Thanksgiving whitewashes the crimes against Native Americans, the precedence for which was set by the same lovely Puritans who established the tradition of Thanksgiving. I'll simply sum up now and say once more that if we really take a critical look at it there's much about Thanksgiving that's profoundly disturbing. But of course most people are so conventional, patriotic, and attached to their culture and its holidays that they'll sweepingly and offhandedly dismiss all of above and continue to observe Thanksgiving with their usual sentimentality.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Cerebral_Narcissist
Posts: 10,806
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11/21/2010 2:28:02 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/21/2010 2:23:18 PM, charleslb wrote:
Blah blah blah blah blah, I hate turkey, blah blah blah blah.

Okey dokey.
I am voting for Innomen because of his intelligence, common sense, humility and the fact that Juggle appears to listen to him. Any other Presidential style would have a large sub-section of the site up in arms. If I was President I would destroy the site though elitism, others would let it run riot. Innomen represents a middle way that works, neither draconian nor anarchic and that is the only way things can work. Plus he does it all without ego trips.
Cerebral_Narcissist
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11/21/2010 2:36:12 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/21/2010 2:34:08 PM, the-good-teacher wrote:
It's a Pagan knees-up thingy.

I thought that was Christmas?
I am voting for Innomen because of his intelligence, common sense, humility and the fact that Juggle appears to listen to him. Any other Presidential style would have a large sub-section of the site up in arms. If I was President I would destroy the site though elitism, others would let it run riot. Innomen represents a middle way that works, neither draconian nor anarchic and that is the only way things can work. Plus he does it all without ego trips.
Cerebral_Narcissist
Posts: 10,806
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11/21/2010 2:43:45 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
So has everyone done their xmas shopping yet?
I am voting for Innomen because of his intelligence, common sense, humility and the fact that Juggle appears to listen to him. Any other Presidential style would have a large sub-section of the site up in arms. If I was President I would destroy the site though elitism, others would let it run riot. Innomen represents a middle way that works, neither draconian nor anarchic and that is the only way things can work. Plus he does it all without ego trips.
InsertNameHere
Posts: 15,699
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11/21/2010 3:36:26 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/21/2010 2:36:12 PM, Cerebral_Narcissist wrote:
At 11/21/2010 2:34:08 PM, the-good-teacher wrote:
It's a Pagan knees-up thingy.

I thought that was Christmas?

This.
bluesteel
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11/21/2010 7:02:22 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/21/2010 2:42:18 PM, FREEDO wrote:
Thanksgiving commemorates our delusion that the pilgrims got along with the Indians.

What do other people do to celebrate? My family goes door to door handing out smallpox blankets.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
clucas
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11/21/2010 7:19:09 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/21/2010 2:42:18 PM, FREEDO wrote:
Thanksgiving commemorates our delusion that the pilgrims got along with the Indians.

Very true.
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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11/21/2010 8:25:34 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
If it is false that the bounty of (semi)capitalism trickles down to the lower classes, then it follows that the lower classes will not be able to afford large amounts of food (since they couldn't before (semi)capitalism), so they won't be accidentally celebrating it anyway.

No one celebrating thanksgiving is thinking about the relations between pilgrims and indians except little kids and their teachers anyway.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
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11/21/2010 10:54:29 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Thanksgiving is about Turkey.. and stuffing.. and cranberry sauce... and pie... and cake... and appetizers..

and seeing family.. and watching football.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
belle
Posts: 4,113
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11/21/2010 10:56:12 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/21/2010 10:54:29 PM, mattrodstrom wrote:
Thanksgiving is about Turkey.. and stuffing.. and cranberry sauce... and pie... and cake... and appetizers..

and seeing family.. and watching football.

and saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaales.

*works in a grocery store and saw sales double this weekend compared to last weekend*

this holiday is gonna save mah job :D
evidently i only come to ddo to avoid doing homework...
lovelife
Posts: 14,629
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11/21/2010 11:26:11 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
FFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU I <3 turkey (more then chicken actually) and now thanks to the stupid ads, I'll feel guilty for eating them
Without Royal there is a hole inside of me, I have no choice but to leave
FREEDO
Posts: 21,057
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11/21/2010 11:29:21 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/21/2010 7:02:22 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 11/21/2010 2:42:18 PM, FREEDO wrote:
Thanksgiving commemorates our delusion that the pilgrims got along with the Indians.

What do other people do to celebrate? My family goes door to door handing out smallpox blankets.

My family does that sometimes. But usually we just set fire to villages or run in and shoot everyone.
GRAND POOBAH OF DDO

fnord
InsertNameHere
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11/21/2010 11:31:01 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/21/2010 11:29:21 PM, FREEDO wrote:
At 11/21/2010 7:02:22 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 11/21/2010 2:42:18 PM, FREEDO wrote:
Thanksgiving commemorates our delusion that the pilgrims got along with the Indians.

What do other people do to celebrate? My family goes door to door handing out smallpox blankets.

My family does that sometimes. But usually we just set fire to villages or run in and shoot everyone.

lol.
lovelife
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11/21/2010 11:31:55 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/21/2010 11:29:21 PM, FREEDO wrote:
At 11/21/2010 7:02:22 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 11/21/2010 2:42:18 PM, FREEDO wrote:
Thanksgiving commemorates our delusion that the pilgrims got along with the Indians.

What do other people do to celebrate? My family goes door to door handing out smallpox blankets.

My family does that sometimes. But usually we just set fire to villages or run in and shoot everyone.

My family just finds a nice place to live, and makes the people that were there walk a few hundred miles away so they can take it.
Without Royal there is a hole inside of me, I have no choice but to leave
Atheism
Posts: 2,033
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11/21/2010 11:57:39 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Thanksgiving=Heart attack.
Either because of the fatty foods, or because some football team won the game and you and your redneck family are so pumped that you go into cardiac arrest and die.
. :3
I miss the old members.
jharry
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11/22/2010 1:57:58 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/21/2010 11:57:39 PM, Atheism wrote:
Thanksgiving=Heart attack.
Either because of the fatty foods, or because some football team won the game and you and your redneck family are so pumped that you go into cardiac arrest and die.
. :3

This.

Last year my old man went into cardiac arrest, but he refused to go to the ER until he finished his beer.

Good times, good times.
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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11/22/2010 11:07:24 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/21/2010 8:25:34 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:

No one celebrating thanksgiving is thinking about the relations between pilgrims and indians except little kids and their teachers anyway.

Yes, I agree, it's mainly school kids and their more progressive teachers who are interested in the fact that the Pilgrims weren't too decent to the natives. Which is a shameful and telling fact indeed, what it tells us is that many in this country don't care to confront the truth of American history, they just want to subscribe to the positive and patriotic propaganda they've been fed by the public schools and popular culture. People don't want this version of history to be questioned the way fundamentalists don't want the story of creation in the Bible to be questioned, it's a sacred cow and folks just want it respected and upheld, regardless of its lack of historical accuracy.

And all of this is why I don't actually dwell on the historical flies in the ointment, or should I say gravy, of Thanksgiving. If you take another look at my post you'll see that I just make a brief reference to the treatment suffered by the aboriginal peoples at the hands of the Puritans, most of the post explores other reasons why Thanksgiving isn't merely the poster holiday for the let-gratitude-be-your-attitude outlook. Perhaps you should reread the post, you might find fodder for more digs.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
innomen
Posts: 10,052
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11/22/2010 2:13:48 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/22/2010 11:07:24 AM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/21/2010 8:25:34 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:

No one celebrating thanksgiving is thinking about the relations between pilgrims and indians except little kids and their teachers anyway.

Yes, I agree, it's mainly school kids and their more progressive teachers who are interested in the fact that the Pilgrims weren't too decent to the natives. Which is a shameful and telling fact indeed, what it tells us is that many in this country don't care to confront the truth of American history, they just want to subscribe to the positive and patriotic propaganda they've been fed by the public schools and popular culture. People don't want this version of history to be questioned the way fundamentalists don't want the story of creation in the Bible to be questioned, it's a sacred cow and folks just want it respected and upheld, regardless of its lack of historical accuracy.

And all of this is why I don't actually dwell on the historical flies in the ointment, or should I say gravy, of Thanksgiving. If you take another look at my post you'll see that I just make a brief reference to the treatment suffered by the aboriginal peoples at the hands of the Puritans, most of the post explores other reasons why Thanksgiving isn't merely the poster holiday for the let-gratitude-be-your-attitude outlook. Perhaps you should reread the post, you might find fodder for more digs.

You annoy me. I'm sure irl you're a fine human being, but here you just annoy me.
bluesteel
Posts: 12,301
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11/23/2010 8:33:52 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
lol, my Ethnic Studies professor taught her young daughter the truth about the Indians and in second grade, her daughter refused to watch the Disney movie Pocahontas.

blech. "The English kidnapped Pocahontas, to use as leverage, to stop her father's and uncle's attacks on their colonies. Pocahontas told her older sister that she was raped by Thomas Dale."http://www.angelfire.com...
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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11/25/2010 7:01:33 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 11/22/2010 11:07:24 AM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/21/2010 8:25:34 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:

No one celebrating thanksgiving is thinking about the relations between pilgrims and indians except little kids and their teachers anyway.

Yes, I agree, it's mainly school kids and their more progressive teachers who are interested in the fact that the Pilgrims weren't too decent to the natives.
Um, no, its mainly little school kids and their statist teachers who are interested in repeating the narrative of Pilgrim-Indian cooperation.

Which is a shameful and telling fact indeed, what it tells us is that many in this country don't care to confront the truth of American history
It's a shame that life is the future, not the past? History is for history class, not for Thanksgiving, which is at this point a celebration dissociated from original intent, like most holidays.

they just want to subscribe to the positive and patriotic propaganda they've been fed by the public schools and popular culture.
No, they just want to celebrate the productivity of whoever's putting on the meal by eating it. Patriotism is irrelevant to thanksgiving.

And all of this is why I don't actually dwell on the historical flies in the ointment, or should I say gravy, of Thanksgiving. If you take another look at my post you'll see that I just make a brief reference to the treatment suffered by the aboriginal peoples at the hands of the Puritans, most of the post explores other reasons why Thanksgiving isn't merely the poster holiday for the let-gratitude-be-your-attitude outlook. Perhaps you should reread the post, you might find fodder for more digs.

Perhaps you should reread the part of the post you failed to quote, you might find another dig that addressed the rest of your rant.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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11/29/2010 1:11:36 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Despite the fact that, as I elaborate on in this post, I find fault with Thanksgiving on certain grounds, I hope that everyone had a happy holiday week and can look forward to a merry Christmas. I'd also like to take a moment to make something else clear. There are those who cynically feel that I'm trying to sway others to my side of the political spectrum, but if I were at all interested in converting anyone here to my point of view I'm certainly not so obtuse and deluded about my powers of persuasion that I wouldn't have realized, early on, that many users of this site are intellectually committed to their own perspective and therefore unconvertible. But my object is merely to make a contribution to constructive conversation, not to work miracles of conversion. I only desire to offer some spicy food for thought to philosophically, axiologically, and "spiritually" malnourished materialists, believers in capitalism, conservatives, libertarians, skeptics, and nihilists, not to force-feed it to anyone.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
devinni01841
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11/30/2010 9:18:48 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
Was meant to be a day to be thankful for stuff,

now is a day to stuff yourself silly and gain a crap-ton of weight

(crap-ton is a technical term by the way :])
There is nothing more bad-@ss than being yourself.

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Member of the Texas Army National Guard since 20111212

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EMOburrito309
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12/1/2010 2:50:35 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Thanksgiving is the celebration of the colonists win over the native americans. They celebrated with a feast, which we are still doing today. It sadens me that we are celebrating the death of hundreds of innocent native americans.
I like to eat eat eat Apples and Bananas. I like to eat eat eat apples and bananas!
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I never debated in my life so feel free to start one with me! Only I would like to talk about the subject before hand.
Koopin
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12/4/2010 10:13:27 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/1/2010 2:50:35 PM, EMOburrito309 wrote:
Thanksgiving is the celebration of the colonists win over the native americans. They celebrated with a feast, which we are still doing today. It sadens me that we are celebrating the death of hundreds of innocent native americans.


Why do you celebrate that?
kfc