I came of age in those amazing times when America learned to hate war and long for peace. I grew up chanting “All we are saying, is give Peace a chance” along with John Lennon and many blue jean clad peers. We all boarded the “Peace Train” and pinned our hopes on a world that wanted peace as badly as we did. We recognized war as a terrible thing, tearing people, families, children, homes, villages, cities, and nations apart and emphasizing the fault lines of hate that run through human history. We did not want to go to war in Vietnam.
As we aged our anti-war message mellowed. We learned the lessons of expediency. With Katie we watched two planes fly into the Twin Towers; we watched those proud towers which pierced our skies burn to ash, melt, and fall over our iconic city. While many of us peaceniks did not want to go to war in Iraq and had real doubts about those weapons of mass destruction, we felt that if we seemed unprepared for some military style of retaliation we would only invite more attacks. We recognized the need to mount a good defense in terms of domestic security systems, and a good offense in terms of a willingness to find and hunt down our enemies and to be ready to meet them on a battlefield. War reared its ugly head again and our chorus of “give Peace a chance” dwindled until it was almost just a silent wish. But that refrain is still there; it is the bass line of our existence. When our strong yearning for peace was met by the revelation that anti-American sentiment around the world was about to become the treble line of our existence, we girded our loins (well the loins of our soldiers) to do more war, war seemingly without end, as it is unclear how all the hostilities that face us around the globe will ever give way to tolerance and peaceful coexistence. It looks as if our contretemps with Islamic extremists will be quite hard to unravel, and then we face other unhappy campers in far flung corners of the world. It looks like we will become way more weary of war before the people of earth will ever reach some kind of equanimity and détente.
So when I saw what happened with the chemical weapons in Syria; when I saw that a peaceful solution was found that seems to be functioning; when I see Syria’s chemical weapons being destroyed by Syria without our having to brings our missiles to bear, then it does not matter who looks weak and who did or didn’t get to strut their hawkishness. I am simply thankful and since it is Thanksgiving, what better week is there to express my thankfulness. And when I see Iran asking us to consider a bargain, a deal, however small that deal may be, I am again thankful, although with lots of reservations – a kind of wait and see thankfulness that that little bass line, John Lennon’s line, “give Peace a chance” just got a little bit louder; not rocking the car louder, but the car next to you knows you are listening to the tune louder. I guess you could say that I am tentatively thankful, hoping this will turn into full blown thankfulness and that this trend of working things out will continue. Happy Thanksgiving! Listen to the bass line.
This is the view from the cheap seats.
Diplomacy is made up of many, many small events and of intangibles like forging relationships with world leaders and the leaders of thousands of organizations that work tirelessly to make the world a better place. This entails lots of schmoozing and some “strong-arming” and meetings and conventions and conferences and speeches and travel; lots and lots of travel. From an article in USA Today we get a tiny glimpse into some of her activities as we see Hillary travelling to China to convince Chinese leaders to free blind dissident, Chen Guangcheng; travelling to India to cajole India’s leaders to reduce oil imports to Iran; renewing old friendships in one of the world’s poorest nations as she meets with Muhammed Yunus, a pioneer in providing microcredit to the poor or Sir Fazie Hasan Abed, founder of the world’s largest development organizations. USA Today says that Hillary is “part tough-talking diplomat, part back-patting politician.”
Unless you have really strong social, intellectual, and political skills you will never qualify for the job of Secretary of State. Two of our best recent Secretaries of State have been women. Madeleine Albright is legendary. I don’t think there could be a better “school” for an American President than being Secretary of State so I hope that Hillary is feeling well enough and rested enough to run in 2016, but even if she doesn’t run she has earned the chops and learned the skills to accomplish whatever goals she sets for herself.
If the only things Hillary Clinton ever accomplished were the things she has done for women that would still be enough to have created a prodigious legacy. Until the women of the world – everywhere in the world – have the same rights as men there will be important work to do and Hillary Clinton has dedicated herself to this one goal as a recurring theme that she returns to whenever she can. In fact, since she can hardly sit back and become a jet-setter for long, we may see her forming a foundation of her own to focus on the needs of women around the world.
Hillary, enjoy a rest. You deserve it. Take time out to set your new agenda and enjoy leisure and your family for awhile. And because everyone is so much tougher on the way older women look than they are on the way older men look, we will be quiet if you decide to have a few nips and tucks. Well I will anyway – others will not be able to keep their big traps shut, I am sure. Ignore them. I don’t believe you will be able to enjoy leisure for very long.
Maybe you will write a book. When you decide to return to public life we’ll be watching with interest. Maybe we can help. In the meanwhile we thank you for your energetic and very effective service to the American government and the American people (which are one and the same).
It’s always so difficult to think of the things you are thankful for when someone asks you to or when it’s your turn at Thanksgiving dinner. Some days you feel your gratitude and other days not so much. Maybe you are having a grumpy day or you are just caught up in the more hum-drum nonsense of everyday life. Maybe your life is really busy and you can’t catch a moment to yourself to just breathe. Maybe you have had a sorrow in your life or you are in the midst of a personal crisis and you’re feeling as if the universe may not be on your side. Maybe life hasn’t been on your side for some time and you can’t get in touch with anything to feel thankful for.
But often people who seem to have the most miserable lives can still put a smile on their face and enjoy the sun on their face, or a conversation, or a ladybug that lands on their arm. Unwittingly they can bring shame to the rest of us who have fairly wonderful lives we don’t always appreciate. And when you really think about it there are so many things to be grateful for that it becomes difficult to know how long to make the list.
We can be grateful for general categories of things or we can be grateful for lots of tiny simple things and often we are thankful for both. We can be grateful for life; we can be grateful for freedom; we can be grateful we have enough to eat; that we have families, and friends, and love. We can be grateful that our lives are so much easier than those of the people at the first Thanksgiving even though our lives still hold challenges and tedious tasks. We can be thankful for the seasons, each beautiful in its own way and for all the beauty in the world. We can be thankful for twinkle lights. And stuffing.
You get the idea. We each could make a very long list and we most likely will not do that every day or even every year when Thanksgiving comes around. But sometimes at the end of the day when we are in our beds taking stock, we may remember to be grateful. Sometimes we do have a Thanksgiving when we really are in touch with the best parts of our life, and we do remember to say thank you or just enjoy the awesomeness of being alive. It is appropriate, I believe, to set aside a day each year to give thanks.