image: Wikimedia commons (link).
There is a movement by some to tar the celebration of Thanksgiving with the brush of imperialism, colonialism, and genocide, and to decry its celebration as misguided or insensitive or outmoded and in need of replacement (see for instance here and here).
These sentiments are obviously a reaction to the horrendous record of violation and slaughter that did in fact follow the arrival of Europeans on the shores of the Americas. To be outraged at what took place in the centuries that followed that arrival is of course appropriate. We should be more aware of and outraged by the record of wrongs which ensued, and the types of thinking and ideology that enabled people to participate in and encourage what took place, and to ask ourselves in what ways such wrongs can be addressed, as well as to examine what ways we might be participating in or enabling similar violations today.
However, I believe that to turn Thanksgiving into "an example of hypocrisy and insincerity," to quote the second article linked above, is itself misguided. One need not believe that what happened in the centuries following the "first Thanksgiving" in 1621 was in any way excusable in order to believe that the holiday's focus upon giving thanks is almost entirely positive.
The fact that by all accounts the Native Americans rescued the settlers from starvation in Plymouth is an example of the way we should provide succor to those in danger of perishing when we see that it is in our power to do so. And the response of giving thanks for having food enough to stay alive is certainly not an inappropriate one.
The act of giving thanks and in fact "saying the blessing" has always been central to the Thanksgiving meal, and one need not share the literal approach to the Biblical scriptures that certainly characterized many of those fleeing the tyranny in western Europe who came to these shores to believe that giving thanks and blessing with every meal is appropriate and worthwhile.
In fact, the focus on giving thanks and blessing at an annual meal can point us to the fact that we should probably be giving thanks and blessing with not just every meal but with every bite of food we take or every sip of drink, and even with every breath of air we enjoy in our lungs while incarnated in these human bodies of ours.
It can even be said that the act of blessing is absolutely central to our purpose of coming into the material world in the first place, as explored in this previous post entitled simply "Blessing."
The ancient writer Plutarch wrote a powerful essay in which he imagined the goddess Demeter and the god Dionysus admonishing us for our lack of gratitude at the abundance of the gifts of the vegetation of the earth which spring up to sustain us. Thanksgiving can be seen as an antidote to such an attitude.
I am very thankful for all of those who interact with me through what I write and through their feedback and positive responses, and I wish all of you blessings on Thanksgiving and throughout the years!