November 23rd, 2006

Thanksgiving During War

Thanksgiving

Curtis wrote a blog post which causes serious reflection during this time of the year when we’re supposed to show gratitude for our bounteous blessings:

Do we feel thankful this thanksgiving that we live in the USA where we are free to live without being bombed and killed? Do we feel thankful that we live in a land where we enjoy freedom the freedoms we enjoy? What a closed minded and narrow hearted nation we are. I imagine we are like the self-righteous man in Jesus’ parable, that was thankful that he was righteous, more righteous than the man behind him who was a sinner and smote his breast and wouldn’t lift up his eyes to heaven.

The misery that we have contributed to heavily in Iraq, and our attitude about it reminds me of the time Brigham Young found a man rejoicing that he had just sold an old and decrepit cow to an old lady for a very inflated price. The man was thankful that God had blessed him with such a good sale, while in reality, he had ripped the old lady off big time. Do the blessings we enjoy come in part because of the suffering of the peoples of the world?

Me thinks yes.

How do you, the reader, manage being thankful when there are so many problems (many of which our nation has directly or indirectly caused) that require our attention and necessitate our action and focus? Does a position of gratitude, while so many others are suffering, indicate an irreverent sense of pride? There is a middle ground to be sought here, I think. I can be grateful for that which I’ve been blessed with, but my thanks is not “thanks in deed” unless I am actively sharing what I have with those who don’t have it. The following hymn is a stirring reminder:

Because I have been given much, I too must give;
Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live.
I shall divide my gifts from thee, with every brother that I see
who has the need of help from me.

Because I have been blessed by thy great love, dear Lord.
I’ll share thy love again, according to Thy word.
I shall give love to those in need;
I’ll show that love by word and deed:
Thus shall my thanks be thanks in deed.
(“Because I Have Been Given Much”, Hymns, No. 219)

Jacob also had something to say about this:

And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. (Jacob 2:19)

I hope that we can all take a little time this Thanksgiving season to ask ourselves if our thanks is truly thanks “in deed”. Are we doers of the word, or just hearers? Are we imparting our substance to those that need it? I hope and pray that we all are. And even if we are, there is always room for improvement.

Happy Thanksgiving!

3 Responses to “Thanksgiving During War”

  1. Naiah Earhart
    November 23, 2006 at 9:01 am #

    How do you, the reader, manage being thankful when there are so many problems (many of which our nation has directly or indirectly caused) that require our attention and necessitate our action and focus?

    My answer for this encompasses not just the state of my heart on one day, but my actions and behaviors on every day. President Hinckley has counseled us to do the best we can. In reality, there is nothing more that we can do. I alleviate the suffering that I can. Part of that is keeping your heart open to those around you. (I highly recommend Virgina Pearce’s “A Heart Like His,” such a simple experiment that yields absolute paradigm-blowing results. Seriously. Really, it looks like fluff, but it’s not. It’s so not. This book will do more to bring you into a more Christlike mindset/mode than any other book aside from the scriptures.) When your heart is open to those around you, you are in a place to ask the Lord to make needs known to you. If it be His will, you will find yourself directed and prompted, giving you a stewardship to meet. I do my best to remain open to such, to act on such. That is what I can do, and I do my best at it.

    When it comes to the actions of humans I never meet, but who have the right to ‘act in my name,’ well again, the answer is to do the best that you can. Several years ago, the weight of the actions of many of those in our government pushed me down greatly. Long story short, I blew a gasket and was ‘officially’ put on a ‘need to know’ basis about news and current events.

    The second Article of Faith says that “we believe that men will be punished for their own sins…” So, where is my sin in regard to the actions of those leaders (whose choices beyond a certain point, neither I nor you are responsible for)? My accountability lies in doing the best that I can, exercising my vote and my voice. It lies in doing the best that I can to remain informed on the issues, drafting letters to legislators as needed, and voting according to my own best judgement when ballot time comes. When it comes to wartime ravaging, that is where it ends for me–citizen’s political activity, for that is the best that *I* can do. I am at liberty to become neither a lobbyist nor a politician, and so I do not have the power to do anything more. I do the best that I can with those avenues of influence that are available to me, and I keep an eye out for new ones, but in the end I have had to accept that that is all that I can do.

    As for our indirect choices and their impact on our planet and our fellow man, it’s ok to live our life a touch or two off the ‘norm’ from what we’re presented on the assembly line that is American society. Vote with your dollars; don’t buy clothing or products manufactured in conjunction with human rights violations; clean your home with products that are not only better for you, but whose production yields less poison for our planet. Impart of your substance as the opportunity presents. Exercise your accountability by making choices that are not only good for you, but good on the whole. That is in your power, even if pushing around big corportaions directly is not.

    You do the best you can with the power and influence that you are given. You also recognize the end of the reach of that power and influence, and do not short-change your efforts by tossing energy and resources at an ineffectual target beyond your reach.

    Really, the answer is simple; do the best that you can. When that is done, you can rest assured.

    Also: Concern or consternation over one problem does not erase feelings of gratitude from one’s heart. Even in the midst of pain and chaos, the Lord’s love is there and blessing are present, for which one can always feel thanks.

    Does a position of gratitude, while so many others are suffering, indicate an irreverent sense of pride?

    I suppose it depends on the nature of one’s gratitude. There is no pride in my gratitude. Gratitude, for me, is deep and humbling, a recognotion that the Lord giveth (all) and that He can taketh (it all) away. For someone who may see some badge of honor in what they have received, and puff themselves up therefrom, yeah, I’d say that’s irreverently prideful. In general, though, I hope that gratitude and pride are not inextricably linked for most.

    Gratitude and sorrow can, and frankly should, live side-by-side in our hearts for the latter grows the former, gives it perspective and depth, offers the bitter to heighten the sweet.

  2. Jettboy
    November 23, 2006 at 9:12 am #

    I don’t have much to say on the topic. Just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving.

    How do you, the reader, manage being thankful when there are so many problems (many of which our nation has directly or indirectly caused) that require our attention and necessitate our action and focus?”

    By starting with myself. If I can’t be thankful of what I have, how can I know what needs to be done for others? Another is that God has commanded us to be thankful. That sounds srange, but He has. This is His world and not ours. Any blessing we might have, no matter how remote from hope, is because of His mercy. Sometimes we forget how big the World is and how small our place.

  3. November 23, 2006 at 6:30 pm #

    Good comments here. I think you all have very good attitudes.
    I often find it difficult to rejoice in the luxuries we enjoy here in the USA, when I consider the miserable condition of much of the world… 10 million children in the world, dying each year due to starvation and easily curable diseases, while I have plenty of food and healthcare. I am stung by the many killed in Iraq and the other military adventures our nation has been involved in… frankly, to insure that we maintain our position of disproportionate wealthiness over the rest of the world.
    The people on this rock, the human species, are all brothers and sisters. We enjoy the richness of the earth and hardly consider the misery of much of the rest of the world most of the time. I feel that we are the people described in the scriptures who let the poor and hungry pass us by (though it be on the other side of the ocean, or south of the border) and notice them not. The little child, who is the age of my son, in Africa, who faces the vulture without the strength to fend for himself, weakened by hunger since his birth… why can I rejoice in my great wealth (in comparison that is) when he dies an unnoticed death? I know I’m rather dark in my attitude… I think you guys have much better attitudes…

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