18 Nov 2016


Our Uneasy Thanksgiving Ahead

A fall scene on the Hill. Photo by María Helena Carey.

A fall scene on the Hill. Photo by María Helena Carey.

One of our readers shares his thoughts on Thanksgiving and on making efforts to get along during this season of gratitude and beyond. Thank you, Richard, for sharing your thoughts with us and with our readership. If you have an opinion piece you’d like to share, send us an email at thehillishome@gmail.com

With a contentious election season now behind us, we Americans turn our attention to the national holiday, which, oddly, gives many of us equal anxiety. Thanksgiving, an annual ritual of homecoming, brings together a diversity of lifestyles, opinions, and expectations. It is a time of togetherness, yet for some it may be a bit too close. We dread the loneliness; we also dread the awkwardness and apprehension that ensues in certain conversations, and stretches far beyond heart and hearthstone. We must choose our words and topics carefully on where we agree, lest we upset a delicate balance that can end in discord at any moment. Deep breaths become a prerequisite.

Now as our national family embarks on a new Presidential Administration, many will face a similar experience ahead. It is especially true for those who work for or in support of the federal government, like I do. These people have committed their careers to serving Americans and the national interest in order to make the country a better place. Our mission is fulfilled through the multitude of agencies and issue areas that protect our homeland, preserve our lands and waters, and support the engines of commerce – to name just a few. Over the years, in various positions, I have worked supporting administrations of both parties. And in both instances, there could be found places of agreement to move our nation forward. Respect and pride in the work at hand proved a palatable – if not always impassioned – recipe for even the most modest of successes.

While our table is now being set for the next four years, it may be wise to add a plate of comity or a glass filled with patience that could improve the dialogue. There must be areas we can find shared values and goals. And it becomes incumbent upon us to strive for the greatest good.

In his 1862 Thanksgiving Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln cited that the country was moving forward in a variety of ways despite its bloody civil war, adding “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

As we grapple with relating our own experience to the others at the table, we would all be lucky to remember to have a bit of mercy and openness.

At least enough to get us through the first course.

Opinion by Richard Lukas
The writer has lived on the Hill since 2000 and has held government affairs positions for groups representing community development and conservation.


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