to fight or give thanks?

Here we sit, situated between two manufactured holidays, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Perhaps “holiday” is misleading and inaccurate, but the two are days in which much of the nation is engaged in a similar activity.

It was hard to ignore the foolishness on the floor of one Walmart, no less. Hours after gathering for an intentional giving of thanks, two men graveled to the ground, fighting for who gets what, somewhere between the paper towels and on-sale toys. 

In Hoover, Alabama — not far from Birmingham — the foolishness was far worse. According to local police, a fight broke out between two young men inside the Riverchase Galleria mall near the FootAction store. It resulted in an exchange of gun fire, with two wounded and one killed. (The specifics of this incident continue to be investigated.)

There are multiple, valid aspects from which we could approach the above, manifest foolishness. They are not the same — as one seems silly — the other heartbreaking. Yet a single, primary question lingers:

Why do we fight?

Prompting a second, also necessary question: are we teaching the younger generation that is acceptable and good to fight?

While it may be a somewhat unpopular premise, it’s hard not to wonder when we fuel the “mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-any-more” mentality — in societal, sport, or political disagreement — no longer even allowing for disagreement — if we are teaching the younger generation that fighting is actually acceptable and good.

Let’s be clear: there is a time for everything… a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, a time to dance, a time to be silent, and a time to speak up. But not every offense is a need to be offended. Not every time we feel impugned is cause for protest. And not every ounce of friction is reason to fight.

Fascinatingly, here comes the fight — right after the nation’s pause for Thanksgiving. Such made me ponder further.

Thanksgiving is peaceful. Fighting is not.

Is there then, a link between gratitude and peace?

Is there a correlation between the intentional expression of thanksgiving and how much actual peace we feel inside?

And… when we fail to express our thanks, when we intentionally omit gratitude — judging it to be unnecessary or even undeserved — worry, anxiousness, and stress prevail?

Maybe, just maybe, our worry, anxiousness, and stress (along with their accompanying resentment, anger, and acrimony) would be lessened exponentially if we learned how to be intentional in the consistent offering of thanksgiving… in the practicing of gratitude… and in recognizing all that we have been graciously given. It’s wonderful what happens when that realization displaces worry at the center of your life.

If we fill our minds on things that are true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious — filling our minds on the best, not the worst — the beautiful, not the ugly — things to praise, not to curse — it’s amazing what that does to our perspective…

How it changes the way we see the world…

How it changes the way we treat one another…

And how we realize some of this fighting is the fruition of foolishness.

Let us focus most on what is good and right and true.

And let our intentional expression of thanks last for more than a single day each year.