Thankfulness is Hard to Come By

Published: November 23, 2022

By Jim Lichtman
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This began as a story about gratitude, and yet, we can’t turn away from the cancer of hate and violence that is slowly eating away America’s soul.

With the recent shooting at an LGPTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado that left 5 dead and 18 injured,  “Far-Right influencers made LGPTQ people into targets,” The Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Hatewatch reports.

Last night, with multiple deaths reported, a Virginia Walmart can be added to the list of mass shootings.

It’s hard to offer thanks after such an egregious crimes of hate and violence.

“Eight men wearing the colors of the Proud Boys hate group – at least two of whom were armed  – initiated a violent confrontation with protesters outside a white nationalist conference near Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday afternoon,” the Center reported.

“‘The Proud Boys’ actions belie their disavowals of bigotry: Rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings such as the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler helped organize that event, which brought together a broad coalition of extremists including Neo-Nazis, antisemites and militias. Kessler was expelled from the group after the violence and near-universal condemnation of Charlottesville rallygoers.”

With bigotry and violence on the rise, it’s difficult to even imagine words of thanksgiving.

Despite evidence by police officers on the scene, “Conspiracy theories about the home invasion and hammer attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, continue to spread across conservative media, social media and ‘alt-tech’ sites, even as a federal criminal complaint appears to debunk false narratives extremists and right-wing influencers have spread.”

In an atmosphere of unbounded conspiracies, like-mindedness, and social media team up to become a potent force of persuasion to many millions.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch reports that far-right extremism and violence has become the biggest threat to our democracy.

How can we find peace among ourselves?

Historian Jon Meacham reminds us how Lincoln saved our democracy at its darkest hour. Lincoln’s words and Meacham’s coda offer hope in troubling times.

“We are not enemies, but friends, Lincoln said. “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely, they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

“The words,” Meacham writes, “are immortal, as are angels—but Lincoln teaches us even now that those angels will not take up the cause unless we do too.”

Do we have the courage to listen to those angels?

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