Thanksgiving to What?

Thanksgiving, first held in the USA in 1863, is the day on which the American people give thanks for one’s blessings. A similar day of thanks has been held in Europe since well before North America was even ‘discovered’. Modern folklore has it that Thanksgiving Day is to remember an event in which native Americans offered food (a turkey to be precise) to the starving pilgrims at Plymouth in 1621 and they all sat around jolly, enjoying each other’s company. Perhaps they better hadn’t…




We were invited to a dinner by a woman we had met only once through a mutual friend. Gladly we prepared appetizers and found our way to the remote party. About eleven people were there, none really knowing each other very well. Ages ranged from 27 to well into the 60’s but conversation came remarkably easy.


Everyone there seemed to be more than averagely passionate about something. There was an architect who’d just published a documentary about the 9/11 attacks, a former tomahawk driver for the U.S. army who’d been silenced and sent to jail after speaking out when his conscience disagreed with his actions, a young man who’d left all his possessions and started on a group-walk from coast to coast following a leader with a crystal skull, an older couple who were very involved in community volunteering and who had spent many years in South America, a woman who was finishing a book about the years she spent at the Playboy Mansion in the seventies, a devoted doomsday-prepper and then there was the hostess and us.



If there is one thing I feel compelled to share about this night, it is how once again an earlier observation has been confirmed:

We the Dutch consider our government to represent the people, because that’s just how it works in Europe. Thus the strongest misconception is formed of the people of the United States. The American people mostly disagree with their government’s actions; they just feel powerless to do anything about it. The two-party system doesn’t offer much choice and both Democrats and Republicans really only work to serve capitalist gains (read: to benefit corporations, not workers).


Worker’s Unions have been powerless since the seventies and media has been government censored and manipulated since the fifties. As a citizen you face intimidation or time in jail when you speak out against the people in charge and this is why most don’t use their so-called freedom of speech.


Here’s a little history:

Only SEVEN years after the Bill of Rights (1791) was written with its famous First Amendment: ‘Congress shall make no law (…) prohibiting (…) the Freedom of Speech (…).’, government installed something called the Sedition Act (1798) which didn’t really take away your freedom to speak up, but did give right to the government to incarcerate or torture you after saying what you did. This Act is still in place and has been reinforced by the Espionage Act of 1917 and the declaring of a National State of Emergency in 1933, which has been in continuous effect and which increases federal power to, say, tapping your phone or accessing your facebook data or taking your food away.


My point is (yes, what’s your point?) that I am finding a brewing undercurrent of anger and hopelessness in the American people. These are not only the conspiracy-theorists, hippies and bohemians but most normal persons we meet. Remember, northern Idaho is considered one of the more conservative areas of the country. Thanksgiving offered a chance to talk about pressing matters with a diverse crowd and we are grateful of Pat for inviting us.

Thanksgiving left us all with mixed feelings about giving thanks.




Categories: North AmericaTags: , , , ,

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