Home > Being Thankful During a Grim Holiday Season, by Jack L. Daniel

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During the 2019 “holiday season,” many people will focus on matters such as being mindful of their cultural heritage; highlighting the significance of their traditional values; underscoring the foundations of their faith; and engaging in positive transformations.  Praise and thanks will be offered for enabling people to transcend greed, hatred, and various forms of immorality; moving toward a more civil society and, in general, the enhancement of the human condition.  

Many will do their best to adhere to the Christian advice, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” albeit that they are witnessing “signs of the last and evil days as evidenced by climate induced floods and fires; wars; worldwide economic woes; the general decline in American civility; and most especially, the wanton taking of human lives.  These are indeed times that “try people’s souls.”

 Following the Thousand Oaks killings, CNN commentator Cuomo described our current nightmare as follows, “It was the worst mass shooting in a week!  Think about that: Twelve lives, stolen by a thief that visits us weekly. This is our new normal.”  USA TODAY articulated the nature of this “new normal” by reminding us, Thousand Oaks was the 307th mass shooting in 311 days during 2018!  

Instead of being motivated by “peace on earth and good will,” hate has been the common denominator associated with many of the mass as well as individual killings.  The FBI recently reported that hate crimes rose 17%, reflecting the third consecutive year that hate crimes increased.  More than 7,000 of the hate crimes were significantly directed at Blacks, Arabs, and Jews.  A November 26, 2018 Washington Post article indicated, “Over the past decade, attackers motivated by right-wing political ideologies have committed dozens of shootings, bombings, and other acts of violence, far more than any other category of domestic extremist…” 

Bowing to the psychological weight of the “new normal,” a mother of a Thousand Oaks victim indicated that she was not thankful for/did not wish to receive more thoughts and prayers.  Similarly, a Las Vegas mother stated, "… I don't want prayers. I don't want thoughts. I want gun control, and I hope to God nobody sends me anymore prayers. I want gun control. No more guns."

The vast majority of people do not have the “patience of Job” and, depressed by the “new normal,” they are “sheltering in place,” i.e., remaining in their homes inordinate hours per day, afraid to leave lest they be the victim of a random killing.   Some young children are so traumatized that they have an expectation of being killed during a school shooting.  We witnessed this when, during a lock-down at his school, 12-year-old Ajani Dartiguenave wrote a letter to his family and therein indicated, "Right now I am scared to death. I need a warm soft hug.  Mom, I hope that you're going to be OK with me gone.  Goodbye."  (See, NIKKI BATTISTE CBS NEWS November 16, 2018).

A 5-year-old Black girl in Baltimore was scarred for life when her 7-year old sister was fatally shot.  Then the unthinkable happened when she too was shot a few months later!   A few days later, while standing on his porch in Baltimore, a 3-year-old Black boy was shot in the arm during an all too often experienced “afternoon of gun violence.”  His mother reported that the child became so traumatized that he was afraid to go home again, i.e. he said, “Oh no, ma, I don’t want to go back there.  They are going to hurt my other arm.”  Given the “new normal” in which so many folks find themselves, why should we adhere to the scripture, “in all circumstances give thanks?”

First and foremost, we should be thankful that we are alive and we can work to change the “new normal!”  In the case of Blacks, we should be thankful that so many Black predecessors assumed the disposition, “And before I'd be a slave. I'll be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free” and, in doing so, they found ways “to make a way of no way; to slay slavery, Jim Crow and legal segregation; and to provide the sturdy bridges over which so many have crossed during their journeys to better lives in America.   

As the New Year approaches, we should be thankful that there are many who are resolved to  do things such as [1] forge a “new normal” that would bring peace, good will, and high quality opportunities for our children; [2] advance a social, political and economic agenda based on equity and justice; [3] replace the “school-to-prison pipeline” with an educational system devoted to empowerment, to preparing students to make significant changes in society, to having education be the servant of justice; [4] make high quality education affordable from pre-K through graduate and professional education; and [5] contribute to a “sea change” reduction in ethnocentrism, homophobia, misogyny, patriarchy, racism, religious hatred, sexism.

As our nation trembles at the tragic throne of unprecedented wickedness in the highest principalities, let us be thankful that a “Blue Congressional Wave” might wash away the sins of the past and usher in a new moral/political order.  Hopefully, the new members of Congress will pave the way to realizing the “new normal” described by President George H. W. Bush as follows: “We have within our reach the promise of renewed America. We can find meaning and reward by serving some purpose higher than ourselves—a shining purpose, the illumination of a thousand points of light. It is expressed by all who know the irresistible force of a child's hand, of a friend who stands by you and stays there—a volunteer's generous gesture, an idea that is simply right.”


Jack L. Daniel

Co-Founder, Freed Panther Society

Pittsburgh Urban Media Contributor

December 12, 2018



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