The Day After - Reflections of What Used To Be

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As we sat at the table, overflowing with the traditional foods of the holiday, gorging ourselves on turkey, stuffing, mash potatoes and hot buttered rolls -- along our border on the Rio Grande, a different and less fulfilling and less thankful day was being experienced by some. On our day of thanksgiving we closed our eyes and our minds to the plight of our neighbors and our ancestral families south of the Rio Grande, and we feasted on the bountiful tables set before us without a second thought of what this day was really all about.

THE DAY AFTER - REFLECTIONS OF WHAT USED TO BE

By Al Garcia

As we sat at the table, overflowing with the traditional foods of the holiday, gorging ourselves on turkey, stuffing, mash potatoes and hot buttered rolls -- along our border on the Rio Grande, a different and less fulfilling and less thankful day was being experienced by some.  On our day of thanksgiving we closed our eyes and our minds to the plight of our neighbors and our ancestral families south of the Rio Grande, and we feasted on the bountiful tables set before us without a second thought of what this day was really all about. 

We have begun to accept the normalcy of bigotry, prejudice and bias as part of our national character and value.  When once we extended our hand to our neighbors and the world, we how shun them, berate them, and demean them.  When once we opened our door to those seeking refuge from the cruelty of intolerance, war, starvation and pestilence – we now plan to build a wall to keep them separate and away from the American experience.  As we enjoyed the day, women and children along our border were shackled and chained, one to the other, and marked away.  And they gave thanks for made it to the border’s edge.

And yet, the American experience is nothing more than a mixture of immigrants from around the world who came together, with different ethnicities, religions, skin colors and languages.  We are a hotchpotch of humanity with one commonality – to live free, to breath free, and to dream the impossible and achieve the improbable.

So how did we get to this place and this time in our America?  Why the greed and need to isolate and demean?  Why the dislike, loathing and disgust for those who only seek what the pilgrims we celebrate sought and found?  Why the silence when the world waits to hear the outcry of the brave and of the free?  Why have we abandoned our destiny as a nation of hope, decency and truth? 

The answers came on our Thanksgiving Day, when we celebrated our heritage and legacy as a nation of immigrants.  The answers came when we ate and joked and then sat down to watch a football game.  The answers came when we closed our eyes, our hearts and our minds to the plight of the innocent and their flight and fight for life, while we sat – overfull and overstuffed -- on sofas and easy chairs contemplating the Black Friday sales at Macy’s, Kohls and other department stores. 

Meanwhile, as we relaxed and decided on what desert to have, kids taken from their families months ago along our border remained isolated and abandoned.  Families destroyed.  And still we kept our eyes and minds closed and accepted the normalcy of the times -- the normalcy of greed, deceit and the concept of America First, at whatever cost to the ideas and ideals upon which this great nation was built. 

And on the day after our Thanksgiving -- Black Friday, a day to shop til you drop, but also a bleak and dark day for many seeking refuge from the cold.  For me it was also a day to remember the days of when I was a kid growing up along the Rio Grande.  Thanksgiving and the day after were always days filled with the joy of family, friends and neighbors.  There was no holiday shopping the day after.  It was all about family time.  It was all about sharing and caring, without the partisan rhetoric or cult-like adherence to an unfounded and untenable ideology or conviction

We are now being indoctrinated into rethinking and remaking the American dream.  No more sharing or caring.  No more selflessness or empathy.  No more heart.  No more soul.  We are being told that the only thing that makes America great is money and unquestioned allegiance.  We can be bought, we can be manipulated at the drop of a coin (30 if you’ve read your Bible).  We have been told that the only way to keep America great is to place American soldiers along our border with orders to shoot.  How long along was it that America placed its armies on alert along its borders?  It was a history of menace and intimidation we thought we had outlived and outgrown in our America.  How sad to see our holidays begin like this.  Not with heart, but with hate.  This is not my America. 

We are becoming a silent and blind nation, willing to be led and fed by those who profess to know what is best and just and profitable for America, regardless of truth, legitimacy or accuracy.  It is America at its worst and at its lowest. 

I remember when we were America and we as a people collectively decided what was best for us and for our nation.  I remember when we spoke up and even fought for our right to thrive and to perfect and correct the imperfections in our governance and in our search for truth and justice.  We always knew we were an imperfect nation, but nonetheless, a nation with courage, strength and the tenacity to persevere and overtime.  I remember the men and women of substance and judgment who guided us through peacetimes and wartimes.  These were men and women who placed the life of the nation before their self-interest, self-promotion, self-flattery or self-glorification.  Those were the times when Thanksgiving was truly a time to reflect and to share the blessings of our greatness, our humanity and our humility.

America has wandered from its destined path of righteousness, and we find ourselves hostages within a hemorrhaging democracy, weak and dazed.  And we watch and listen in awe as the power and strength of centuries of cultivated wisdom, understanding, tact and maturity slowly drains from the vessels that have sustained and nurtured the American experience – the Presidency, the Judiciary and the Legislative branches that guide the institutions that have endured the winds of change and the sounds of discontent. 

The day after for me, has become a reflection of the time America was the center of the world.  The center of truth, justice and hope which radiated from within the core of our morality and humanity.  And in that America, Thanksgiving and the holidays that followed were a time of celebration and an extension of an invincible and impregnable human psyche that began with dreamers seeking a world devoid of autocratic rule and despotic allegiances.

For some time now, the magic of the holidays, any holiday, is missing.  The days of make believe and jingle bells, and of holy nights are now replaced by images and pictures of camouflaged soldiers guarding against an attack by women and children charging our bridges and our borders from across the Rio Grande.  Instead of listening to the lyrics of Silent Night or Away In a Manger, we will listen instead during this holiday season to distortions and contortions about the attack of the rapists and killers and drug smugglers, disguised as weak, helpless and dejected women and children. 

The day after and I reflect on the days of yesterday.  Of days of joy and laughter, and days when giving thanks and looking forward to tomorrow were the promises of what it meant to be American.  Now, we are told to be thankful to the Russians for helping to elect our President.  We must give thanks to the North Koreans for not launching an atomic missile at our shores and promising to be good and true and honest.  And most recently, we must give thanks to the Saudi Arabians for giving us oil and billions of dollars for the sale of armaments, and most of all for making the world a better place by killing and dismembering an Enemy of the People and helping to rid the world of “fake news.”

And so, as holidays approach during this new time and during the healing of our America, maybe, just maybe, some of us will start to open our eyes and our minds.  Maybe the spirit of the seasons to come will enlighten and enrich our hearts and our souls with the true meaning of each season and each holiday that it brings, and with the true reason of why we are America, and why the world once looked upon us in awe and envy as the cradle of human dignity and pride in an ever-changing world


Submitted: May 28, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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