Gratitude and Politics
On Sunday, I told the congregation about the final section of Diana Butler Bass’ book, Gratitude: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks. It focused on gratitude, community and politics. I get the connection between gratitude and community; that totally makes sense to me; but gratitude and politics? Those aren’t two themes that often go together in my mind. Diana’s book was helpful in understanding the importance of bringing those two things together. However, it was Jon Meacham’s book, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, that really helped me to see the significant role that gratitude can have in the midst of politics—even if those politics seem far from what we want or imagine the world to be.
Meacham points to many dark times in our nation’s history and refers to certain Presidents, Governors, Senators, members of Congress, and others who said and wrote some of the most surprisingly hateful and intolerant things about African-Americans, Asians, Jews, Eastern & Southern Europeans. He names those elected leaders who owned slaves, those who ordered the massacre of Native Americans by the thousands, those who imprisoned innocent people, including over a hundred thousand Americans of Japanese ancestry during WWII. He also writes about those who would build great walls to keep immigrants out of our country, such as Georgia Governor Clifford Walker who said these words to the KKK in 1924:
I would build a wall of steel, a wall as high as heaven, against the admission of a single one of those Southern Europeans who never thought the thoughts or spoke the language of a democracy in their lives.
Meacham never gives thanks for the intolerance and hateful acts, but points out that there are always people who condemn them, that such times have always been survivable and they actually make us stronger and more accepting in the end. In other words, after the times of darkness, there is more light than there was before; and this leads us to gratitude.
Our Gospel reading on Sunday was from John, chapter 10, where Jesus came to offer lives of abundance. I pointed out that people can be grateful for both the abundance and Jesus’ vision of sharing the abundance with everyone. May we all be grateful that there is more than enough on the Earth for everyone and that a vision for sharing it with others is possible and actually happening throughout the world.
Kahu Alan Akana
Our Kahu (Pastor) offers a weekly message in church most Sundays during the year. Click HERE to see a video of his message from this past Sunday. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by the Kahu (Pastor) of Koloa Union Church, a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.