November 21, 2007

Content But Not Thankful

I just re-read my Thanksgiving post from last year, and I must say that little has changed about my attitude toward the holiday. Well, that isn't completely true. Over the past year, I have become increasingly adamant about the need to defend reason from the constant assaults from the religiously inclined. This has undoubtedly led to a shift in my attitudes about many topics. In this post, I will again examine Thanksgiving, focusing more on my present attitudes than last year's post which emphasized Thanksgivings past.

I am generally content this year, and I take ownership for my role in this outcome. That is, my present contentment has far more to do with my hard work and my general state of mind than it does with any supernatural entity or even any other person. Granted, there are many people to whom I could extend a word of thanks simply because my contact with them has enriched my life. And yet, these are generally folks with whom I have some sort of reciprocal relationship. We have expressed our mutual appreciation throughout the year in our behavior toward one another, so no further expressions of gratitude tied to any particular holiday seem necessary.

Looking over last year's post, I made the claim that Thanksgiving is regarded as something of a religious holiday by many believers. I offered no real support for this claim aside from personal experience, so I'd like to do so now by calling your attention to some excellent material on the subject:
I see Thanksgiving as one more bit of evidence for Christian privilege in America. It is a golden opportunity for believers to talk about their debt of gratitude toward their god, to strengthen their faith, and to feel solidarity in the knowledge that so many others are joining them in similar rituals of celebration.

I'm not saying atheists cannot or should not enjoy Thanksgiving. In fact, I hope you do. I certainly value the time off work (especially given how busy things have been this year). Perhaps there is also nothing wrong with indulging in the holiday gluttony which characterizes so many American households, as long as one can make an effort not to think about those starving around the world. Spending time with one's friends and family can be nice as well, although I'm dubious that "thankful" is the best description.

Regardless of what it means to you, have a happy Thanksgiving. Be content.

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