An introductory note: Lest anyone feel the necessity of getting their knickers in a twist over this week's piece, please note before reading that it is satire, herein defined as "a literary composition in verse or prose, in which human folly or vice are held up to scorn, derision or ridicule." It will be left to the individual reader's determination as to whether the piece is literary . . . or literate.
It seems that once again, President Obama is in deep water with many of those who claim to be my most loyal adherents. From what I read and hear, these children of mine are acting . . . well, very childlishly. They are all terribly exorcised over the fact that the president did not mention me during his brief Thanksgiving address last Thursday (Although he did end his message with "And may God bless you" and did issue thanks in an earlier speech while pardoning a turkey). "Somebody ought to remind Obama that when Americans sit down around a meal today and give thanks, they give thanks to God," one columnist acidly noted. A Fox News personality complained that the president's "remarks were void of any religious references although Thanksgiving is a holiday traditionally steeped in giving thanks and praise to God." Yet a third -- one Ben Shapiro -- tweeted "Unreal that Obama doesn't mention God in Thanksgiving message. Militant atheist. To whom does he think we are giving thanks?"
For the love of God! (Or should I say "For the love of Me?") With all the unemployment, gross income inequality, global warming and international chaos going on around the planet, this is the best they can come up with? This is the most important issue to discuss? If giving me my due in public is so all fired important, why didn't these same folks go after Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum -- none of whom mentioned me in their Thanksgiving messages? Its allrather silly and peruile, and brings to mind a couple of quotes from
two of my most gifted children : William Shakespeare and King Solomon. The first two come from Willie -- "Much Ado About Nothing," and "What a piece of work is a man . . ." The second is from the quill of King Shlomo who, writing under the pen name of Koheleth (that's Ecclesiastes to my non-Jewish children) noted "There's nothing new under the sun."
Do all those currently deriding Barack Obama for failing to mention me really believe they've hit on something new? Stuff and nonsense! More importantly, are they really all that outraged and offended by his ommision? Likely not, but hey, anything they can tar the man with they see as fair game.
How well I remember the political food fight between Adams and Jefferson back in 1800. To me, it seems like only yesterday. First, campaigners for the young "Sage of Monticello" accused "Old Sink or Swim" of having a "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman." In response, Adams' surrogates called Jefferson "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father . . . a weakling, an atheist, a libertine, and a coward!" One thing you've got to hand them: back then calumnies had a lot more linguistic "oopmh" then they do today.
Now, did Jefferson's mouthpieces really, truly believe that Adams was a "hideous hermaphroditical creature?" Of course not, although it did make for a pretty nifty alliteration. Likewise, I can tell you that none of Adams' handlers went to bed at night thinking "Jefferson is a half-breed atheist." So why did they even bother giving voice to these slurs? Politics and the art of winning, plain and simple. Indeed, there is "Nothing new under the sun." I told you King Sol was one gifted son-of-a-gun . . .
Personally, I can tell you that I get more than my share of thanks from people attending churches, synagogues, mosques and other assorted houses of worship. I don't need -- nor particularly want -- thanks from politicians on the hustings. I am humbled by all those invoking my name and giving thanks before meals; I am delighted whenever anyone engages in feeding the poor, clothing the naked or caring for the orphaned, the homeless or the sick. I am not in the least offended when people take the time to question my existence or wonder aloud why bad things happen to good people. Doing justice, loving mercy and walking with humility; these have always been my three highest priorities for all of you.
On the other hand, I am really stupefied by all those who use my name -- or worse, call upon me -- to justify acts of violence, bigotry, destruction or utter selfishness. Please be forewarned: claiming to know my will better than the next guy is not a good way to earn divine points; proclaiming that you are more pious or beloved than the next guy is the precise opposite of piety or divine love. How person X, Y, or Z will be judged in the end of days -- and when that end will come -- is my business, not yours.
Now, with regards to politics in the United States, let me state emphatically that I lean toward neither the Democrats nor the Republicans; I favor neither the Tea Party nor the Occupy Wall Street Crowd; that I can just as easily love and bless a conservative as a Communist. As the one whose very essence is existence, I transcend all labels. If you wish to know something of my political ideals, study the Bible; don't just quote it from memory -- really, truly study, it along with as many commentaries as you can comprehend. There you will discover that I am on the side of the poor and downtrodden; that I loathe war and baseless hatred; that I really, truly have created you to be each other's keepers. What you will not find is that I have a position on Capital Gains taxes, Oil Depletion Allowances, prayer in the public schools, carrying concealed weapons are a thousand-and-one other temporal issues. (Although I must say, having paid a great deal of attention to how my children are treated in the workplace, I am far more pro-labor than management.) Do not -- I repeat DO NOT -- use my name to justify your political platforms; I am not here to endorse anyone's candidacy. For you see, my dear children, I really, truly do believe in the separation of church -- and synagogue and mosque -- and state. I mean after all, it is I who created Thomas Jefferson.
Personally, I could care less if President Obama mentions me in a Thanksgiving address. That is mere verbiage. What I do care about is how he -- and his administration and the Congress and the nation he tries to lead act -- not what they say.
So roll up your sleeves, park your arch pettiness by the side of the road, and try working together for the common good -- not just the enrichment of the already rich.
That will be thanks enough . . .
-2011 Kurt F. Stone