Column – Thanksgiving helps battle American exceptionalism

November 22, 2010 — Leave a comment

Originally published in The Daily Toreador.

As much as I support the celebration of the birth of Jesus, I’m beginning to think that Thanksgiving may be the holiday that America needs most right now.

This time of year, we’re almost inundated with shouts of “It’s the season of giving” as much as we are by the utter onslaught of consumerism. I’m sure it can be annoying coming from the wrong people in the wrong way, but the fact of the matter is that people shout it at us because we need it.

I’m no exception to the craziness that often hits consumers. I would be lying if I told you I haven’t already planned out what stores I’m hitting on Black Friday, and it would be foolish to pretend that I haven’t already started dropping hints on what certain loved ones could get me as gifts for the holidays.

But I’m talking about a lot more than just giving and getting of material objects. I’m not even going to tell you to go out and volunteer your time to a worthy cause this holiday season (though it wouldn’t be a bad idea). I’m talking about our attitudes as Americans, as young, educated people, even as Texas Tech students.

America strives to create leaders. This is great, except when you have a nation full of people who see themselves as leaders, you have nobody fit to be good followers. And without good followers, you have no reason for the leaders in the first place.

We’ve all been trained with that mindset – that we were meant to command, not be commanded; that we deserve to be in charge because we’re Americans, damn it.

We deserve our coffee for free because the barista didn’t put enough low fat milk in it. We deserve to go to a great bowl game because the Red Raiders are God’s chosen team. We deserve to have Tuesday classes cancelled because we need to travel back home – as if Wednesday wasn’t set aside for that already.

To put it simply, we’re all a bunch of whiny, spoiled brats.

And I’m sure it’s easy to point at a classmate or co-worker and say, “Yep, that’s them,” but it’s probably you, too. It’s certainly me from time to time, as much as I hate to admit it.

Thanksgiving is more than being thankful for family and life and material objects. It’s being thankful for anything and everything you have.

Whether you always agree with its leaders or not, you live in a pretty amazing country. As a Tech student, you go to a pretty great school. If you’re reading this right now, you have impeccable taste in columns and are holding a great newspaper.

But just as important as being thankful, we need to stop acting like we’re better than everybody else just because of the things we do have.

So you have a 4.0 GPA and are going to law school. I’m happy for you, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let you cut in front of me in the line at Target. So you’re on the football team. Fantastic, but I’m not going to worship you for it. So you want to be a DT columnist. That doesn’t … Well, OK, you actually are better than everybody else.

The point is, we have a lot of emotions, desires and thoughts that we need to keep in check, and Thanksgiving can be a great time to be reminded of that. We should think about it before we try to talk that cop out of giving us a ticket when we speed on our way back home to see our families.

Britton Peele

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Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

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