Dear All, “And, here it is, your moment of Zen…” I can still hear Jon Stewart’s voice wrapping up “The Daily Show” with that signature tag-out line. Whatever the “zen” was, it effectively served as a restorative coda to the stress of the day.
Tomorrow, Thanksgiving, is Stewart’s line writ large. If we observe the animating spirit of the holiday — to reflect on our lives through a prism of gratitude — it’s a day for setting aside our angst about the ongoing assault on our democracy. Discounting fraught family dynamics that can’t be avoided (they are your family,) it can still be a day to focus on what we have, as opposed to what we don’t. (Which, according to University of Pennsylvania Dr. Martin Seligman who wrote “Authentic Happiness” translates into why those who experience gratitude are generally better adjusted than those who don’t.)
So, here are three short pieces guaranteed to deliver Thanksgiving zen.
First, New York Magazine’s Andrew Sullivan channels the appreciation of a grateful nation for the character and courage of Fiona Hill. In his piece, "Fiona Hill Is the Antidote to Trump," Sullivan recounts how hearing Hill’s calm voice "moved me deeply, and not just because she comes from the country of my birth too, but because her immigrant, accented voice revealed an understanding of America in a way this president simply doesn’t understand. She knows what’s at stake. And she has done her part. It gives me hope, I guess. Hope that we can, in fact, expose and defeat this malignancy at the heart of our democracy.”
Next, a tribute to all who have tenaciously pushed back against this wrecking ball of an administration. Read “If We Adjust to Trumpism, the Republic is Lost” by Richard Primus, a University of Michigan law professor. "I’m a resistor. And my resistance is based on two premises,” Primus says. "The first is that the Trump presidency is morally repugnant and a threat to the rule of law. The second is that I am obligated to exceed my normal level of civic engagement to meet the threat.”
"I know, of course, that my personal resistance cannot save the republic. But the resistance of a hundred thousand people can. My responsibility is to be one of them, rather than sitting it out. And this resistance will only succeed if many people make the effort to resist, even while knowing that their individual resistance is not what makes the difference,” Primus concludes. (Hat tip to Ellen Bender and Heidi Steinberg for flagging this piece in The Atlantic.
Finally, leave it to Barack Obama to come up with a one-word cure for the Democrats' 2020 terror: “Chill!" Appearing at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser last week, Obama warned against letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. “The field will narrow, and there’s going to be one person, and if that is not your perfect candidate and there are certain aspects of what they say that you don’t agree with and you don’t find them completely inspiring the way you’d like, I don’t care,” Obama said. “Because the choice is so stark and the stakes are so high that you cannot afford to be ambivalent in this race.” As reported in the WaPo, Obama reiterated his mantra for the 2020 primary season: Don’t stress too much, be mindful of losing touch with voters, and stay focused on the goal of beating Trump.
Finally, as the song from “Hamilton” goes, how lucky we are to be alive right now. In this piece produced by “Good Morning America,” no one personifies the spirit of gratitude better than my
sister-in-law Kerry Gruson.
Wishing you all the blessings of Thanksgiving.