President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday in November a national day of thanks in 1863, two years into the American civil war. President Lincoln was tasked with keeping the nation together as brother slaughtered brother, and amongst the inner chaos, Lincoln decided a national spirit of gratitude would be paramount.
One hundred and fifty-five years later, America needs Thanksgiving to the same degree as the divided states of the mid-1860s. Americans, although not divided in a full-blown war effort, continue to divide over differences of opinion.
Conservative versus Liberal. Republican versus Democrat. Progressive versus Traditionalist. These are becoming the dividing factors of American society, much like North versus South defined 1863 America.
Thanksgiving becomes crucial to reset the hearts of the American people. It is a time to be thankful for more than family, friends and good food. Americans should focus on the blessing of being an American - the right to have a political ideology, the fundamental First Amendment rights, the right to vote, the freedom of religion and the principles of democracy that give the power to the people.
Americans often neglect to appreciate the right to vote and influence politics, instead approaching it with a sense of entitlement. If instead, people view these fundamental rights as privileges and honorable responsibilities, the gratefulness will cultivate positive change and unification within our divided nation.
According to a Forbes magazine article, there are seven key benefits to a spirit of gratitude, four of which illustrate just how Thanksgiving could bridge this division. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships, it improves psychological health, it enhances empathy and reduces aggression and finally, it increases mental strength.
Americans desperately need to learn how to improve and create relationships amongst one another. Relationships form a connection between people and begin to rebuild one’s humanity. This first benefit of gratitude is the most crucial tool for lessening the nationwide divide. Relationships bring people together, and our nation desperately needs to be brought together.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” President Lincoln said.
America must unite. America must close the divide. America must be grateful.