This week Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday in the United States since 1863. Thanksgiving is pretty much synonymous with turkey, the bird gracing the platter in the middle of the holiday table. But this year, the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving gathering may not be poultry but politics, i.e., discussions (arguments?) about the area of the world in which Turkey is located. That’s Turkey with a capital “T” as in the country and not a bird Butterball is hawking. I mean what family gathering isn’t complete without heated debate between blood relatives who make each other’s blood boil with opposite stances on hot button political issues?
In case you have been living under a rock, perhaps one the size of, say, Plymouth Rock, it may behoove you to learn that hordes of Syrian refugees are in Europe and looking for a new home. Uncle Sam’s neighborhood has been mentioned as a possibility. Some kind-hearted and compassionate Americans have become cheerleaders for Welcome Wagon and can’t wait to deliver a nice, piping hot casserole to these refugees upon their arrival. Other, more security conscious Americans, are urging that we pull up the drawbridge to protect the womenfolk and children from murderous heathens who could blow us to kingdom come while we are at a concert or out to dinner. Gosh darn. Now while eating our Thanksgiving meal we not only have to decide what kind of pie to have for dessert (pumpkin? pecan? apple?), but we have to take a position on life-altering decisions for thousands of Syrian refugees?
Shifting the table talk to the presidential race is not an option. That change will lead right back into the same debate because, of course, a candidate’s stance on foreign policy issues is a key consideration. Just ask poor Ben Carson. He has been shot down like a Thanksgiving turkey, plunging from his #1 spot in the polls. Why? Perhaps it is because, as one of his top advisers claims, the good doctor is unable to process “one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East.” That’s a bit harsh; he’s a neurosurgeon for crying out loud. I doubt Middle East Affairs 101 was an elective in med school. And how many of us could pick Syria out on a map if asked to do so? (HINT: It borders Turkey.)
Instead of attempting to solve the world’s problems, maybe we Americans should just take the day of Thanksgiving to well, simply give thanks. The fact that we are alive and (relatively) safe (for the moment) is reason enough to thank our Creator. If we knew an iota about terrorism, we’d be thanking our Creator EVERY DAY for our safety. Think ISIS is all we have to worry about? HA! The U.S. Department of State has an extensive “menu” of FTO’s (Foreign Terrorist Organizations) which it has helpfully listed for us on its website. Choose from approximately 60 named groups including Abu Nidal, Hamas, Boko Haram (currently ranked the #1 deadliest FTO), the Real (as opposed to the fake) Irish Republican Army, Shining Path, and the Palestinian Liberation Front, to give you security nightmares in addition to indigestion from your Thanksgiving feast.
The menu choice is yours this week. You can have dinner with political debate on the side. Or you can embrace the essence of the holiday and count your blessings while consuming copious comestibles (and presumably not counting your calories). Let’s take time to be thankful for life and provisions–whether white or dark meat; peacefully co-exist with your relatives and perhaps an annoying in-law for the day by avoiding divisive topics. Pray for peace in and around Turkey while having a piece of turkey.