Dear Students and All Members of the Mount Ida Community:
What makes Thanksgiving a uniquely American holiday is less its origins than how it has evolved. It is, of course, a remembrance of the survival of the Plymouth colonists celebrating their progress in a new land, facing yet another harsh winter.
What the holiday has become, however, is much more relevant and important. It selects out no religion, no ethnicity, culture or race, but invites all to dinner in homes throughout America. It is our moment for family and friends when the doors of our homes are open without agenda – except lots and lots of good food and football. And for a moment, we are permitted to put aside our everyday cares, our anguish and anxiety and to spend time laughing, relaxing and embracing those around us.
This holiday could not come at a better time. The election has frayed our minds and spirit. We need, both personally and as a nation, to take a break, relax for just a moment and to recognize our strengths, not our weaknesses.
We face a challenging moment in our history – whether you are a Republican, a Democrat or neither. But taking a longer view, our whole history has been one of challenge and we should not lose sight of that fact. Our republic and the democracy upon which it is based is one which anticipates change – at times wrenching and disjunctive – but that’s the deal we made at the start of this nation and we have since faced many moments just as demanding.
In each instance, we have shown our indomitable and unfailing spirit. And we will do so now. At our core, we are a nation of laws – at times challenging to enforce – but very difficult to undo. Those laws, combined with the diversity of our people, give voice to every one of us.
You, our students, need to know that fact and to realize that, as volatile as this moment may appear, the election – and those who have been elected – will soon be old news and you will be the new and next chapter. The new administration has but a brief moment to demonstrate that it is worthy of our nation and our people.
I ask that you understand your ability to shape the future and not feel powerless. We drive by looking ahead, not into the rear view mirror. That applies to drivers and presidents. If our President-elect looks forward, he will see each of you, individually and collectively – there to challenge and to guide him.
To do so, you must become involved, not observers, not watching a screen to see what has happened, but to be what happens. Our task, as your teachers, is to enable and encourage you. We do so, eagerly, in order to be the resource to help you identify issues and causes that can lead to constructive change; to build your confidence and effectiveness to benefit our communities and our nation. We do this because we know, so well, that you are the hope for our own future, as well as your own.
Fear of the future is neither a constructive nor a worthy emotion in a democratic society. It has never shaped our future and is inconsistent with the great progress that this nation has made over its long history. For more than two centuries, we have embraced new ideas and new people. Given that success, there is no reason to stop now.
I wish you and your families a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving – may laughter and joy fill your homes. And, if you have a moment, please take a walk down your street, look at the folks who pass you by, glance in the windows of the homes and apartments. Be really proud of the humanity and diversity of our nation and proud of what we have built and will build yet again. You are the faces of the future of our nation and still remain its great hope.