Monday, November 28, 2016

Our Day of Gratitude

Once again it is the season, or at least day of gratitude. 
A day we set aside to force ourselves to be grateful for stuff.
Sure, I'm being cynical.  So, shoot me.
Like everyone, I am grateful for my family, the blue sky, my friends and whatever good stuff happened to land in my lap this past year.  Everyone is grateful for that stuff.  Stopping there would sound so cliché that I wouldn't blame you if you came away thinking I really didn't know what gratitude really was.  
So, I put a little thought into it this year and would like to itemize the things for which I am grateful which are new to me this year.  Here we go:

1. Malcom X
I've been doing some reading this year about the Civil Rights movement.  I learned that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a real radical who toned it down until he had some power and then ramped it up.  When he started talking about the Vietnam War and economic racism, that's when he got himself killed.
But Malcom X's presence on the scene is what initially gave Dr. King some power.  You see, from the way I can figure it, Malcom X's not-so-non-violent rhetoric made Dr. King's radical non-violence seem pretty appealing to the white power structure.  So, it is indirectly via Malcom X that Dr. King and his organization gained a bit of their swag, and for that, I am thankful.  Malcom X's rhetoric made it OK for America to move forward with many of Dr. King's ideas.

2. 12-Step Programs
This year, my wife and I went through a 12 Step Program to become sponsors of families of addicts [drugs or alcohol].  I found the 12 Step Process to be wonderful.  When I first saw it, I looked at it and sort of thought to myself with all of my seminary experience, that I probably already "got" it.  I didn't. 
Here's the thing.  If you've never done a 12 Step Program because you think they're for addicts, you are wrong.  Even if you're not doing it for a family member, you should do it.  It took most of 2016, one night per week and it wasn't fun, but it was a bell in my life's experience that I will never be able to unring.

3.  Good Whisky
So, after Malcom X and the 12 Step, you might think being grateful for good whiskey seems a little out of place.  [Its not very often that someone is thankful for both 12 Stepping and alcohol, but there is apparently a first time for everything.] It is.  But I don't care.  I am still grateful for it.
I read a 2 books on whisky this year and I have a very good understanding and appreciation.  The problem is, I can now tell the good stuff from the bad stuff and I don't want the bad stuff anymore.  My doctor said (for health reasons) that beer is out for me, so I had to find something new and whisky was my first choice.
Of course, now that I know about Dewar's 12, Dewar's White Label tastes like lighter fluid and Johnny Walker Black is so wonderful, it should be a flavor at Baskin Robbins.

4.  Really Good Historians
I generally don't like history.  Most of it is unrealistically dualistic for me (the good guys did this and the bad guys did that), and people tend to make more of it than it really was.  The whole "knowing history to avoid it repeating itself" is a bunch of bulloney on multiple levels.
This year, however, I read a bunch of really good history books.  The best one for trying to paint things maybe differently than how we had been led to understand things as having happened was Nathanial Phlibrick's Valient Ambition which, in many ways, took the black hat of history off of Benedict Arnold in a lot of ways. 

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