November 21, 2012 | Back to: News

Grasshopper Soup: Thanksgiving food for thought

TAHOE CITY, Calif. - What's all the fuss about adulterous U.S. Generals? That's what happens when you allow heterosexuals to serve openly in the military. Instead of "Don't ask, don't tell," for heterosexuals it's just "Tell everybody!" It's good to be free.

Ask and tell would make the best slogan for a sign. We should hold it high and enjoy the fact that our agendas are just another changing hue in the pigment of chameleons.

We have all been known to change color to match our surroundings, but we prefer to think we don't. We are certain of our own sense of self-certainty.

Our best ideals and values, and our imperfections, are all reflected in our social, legal, commercial and political "systems." Image control, accusation and denial, crime and punishment, ceasefire and escalation, peace, even the aggressor, are all institutionalized. So is deception, argument, injustice, and plausible deniability. The chameleon of human behavior and image makes the world go around, or brings it down.

At Thanksgiving family dinner, that special event we devote so much time, attention and custom to, at least one of us will take it for granted that all the other chameleons see us the way we appear to ourselves - the most together, the smartest, the most perfect person at the table. It takes a lot of practice to swallow our pride and admit we are just another chameleon like all the others. It is not an insult to be on the same level as common folk.

Just don't choke on a bone, or a dry piece of over-cooked turkey, or spit out a delicious bite with cranberry sauce. And hope the loose lips who blabbed about the scandalous, top-brass military sexual affairs doesn't sit next to you and talk turkey about your husband.

How we receive our food is not what Thanksgiving is all about. How we receive others; giving them the benefit of the doubt when we think they are wrong, that is the most important thing. If we are only here to jump to conclusions about others, or for self-recognition, money, prestige, the food, customs, rituals or applause, we are out of focus.

When we are out of focus we allow anger, and create negative outcomes for ourselves and our world. Our circumstances, including fear, are the frosting on the cake of life, not because they are bad, but because we can recognize that danger and fear are integral to life and must be embraced, appreciated and understood before we can live with them.

We use religious faith and our personal belief systems and egos to deal with, or run from, fear all the time. Native Americans did it every time they killed a buffalo. All but the worst belief systems can see that all life, given or taken so that other life may live, is of the same essence as ours, and deserving of our highest thanks and praise. It is so obvious it is easy to ignore. What is not obvious, and easier to ignore, is that, no matter who we are, fear controls our camouflage so much even the best turkey at the table can't see his own fear. When we can't see our deepest fears, we can't help others with theirs, and, we can't love ourselves, so we can't love others. Fear is the greatest, and final, test of the human heart.

Practice makes perfect, but, when it comes to dealing with fear and living our ideal, a life of daily practice is required. Individuals, families and communities can come amazingly close to the perfect ideal, but to expect every turkey to conform to our ideal, and to issue ultimatums to others to submit to our standard is to invite conflict. Mocking people who do not fit our model is the farthest thing from being a good model.

The variety of people and circumstances on this planet is too great to expect everyone to be the same. Honoring one another is at the heart of all social integrity. Scorning others for their fears and shortcomings while pretending we don't have any, is our greatest fault.

We are all hiding from something. The sooner we find it, the better.

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 30 years.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 21, 2012 11:14AM Published Nov 21, 2012 11:13AM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.