What’s for dinner? Democracy!

Originally published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette November 5, 2021

“A farmer’s final meal of the day.” The million-dollar Jeopardy champ, Matt Amodio, would answer, “What’s supper?”

Speaking of WWLP-22, its parent company, Nexstar Media Group, controls 199 TV stations that reach 68% of U.S. households. Lately, they’re using trusted local anchors to push a “fast growing,” Fox-like tabloid cable channel and website. It claims: “More people in Western Mass get their news from Channel 22 that any other source.” My very point! I can’t afford not to subscribe to newspapers.

Marshall McLuhan: “The medium is the message.”

I haven’t felt anything like normal for two years. One analogy is that we’re living inside science fiction tales or “Twilight Zone” lives. We don’t know whether we’re coming or going, like a postwar Studebaker.

Thanksgiving Day is looming. Seniors are anxious about gathering with folks not in their family pod. Dr. Anthony Fauci encourages us to celebrate this and every holiday with “fully vaccinated family and friends.” Praise the Lord! Disinformation is rampant on the internet. Hopefully, we won’t hear Facebook wisdom or Fox News lies in the dining room.

If so, I vote we go back into lockdown. Hang on, there’s more.

Let’s talk about Kyrie Irving. Premise: A genuine New York Nets basketball superstar is giving up half his multi-million dollar contract for fear of a vaccine that’s in the arms 400 million of us. African American Eugene Robinson is not having it. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist called Kyrie’s actions pathetic and dangerous. To Irving’s self-pitying, “I just want to play ball, and why me?” Robinson proclaimed, “Cue the violins.”

Those who don’t believe in vaccinations make a great argument for two years of national service. At 18, you don’t want to be home anyway. Besides, your indulgent folks could use a break from their grown-up darling. Experience is still the best teacher. The military brings your shots up to date before you even ask.

In her later years, our mom’s kitchen had a mock “Dutch Girl” spoon-rest that said: “Kissin’ don’t last, Cookin’ do!” Mom was a generous cook who fed her large family, visiting relatives and whomever our dad invited on short notice. Raised on a Vermont farm, her menu favored beef and, in wartime, backyard chickens. Rabbit rare, despite dad’s kennel of beagles.

Mom knew the way to everyone’s heart.

Norman Rockwell idealized Thanksgiving in America in his painting of an apron-clad grandmother presenting an oversized turkey to a table of anxious white eaters. Rockwell based it on FDR’s Four Freedoms’ speech. Its title, “Freedom from Want.” Eighty years onward, our eyes have been opened to an America purposely unseen in 1943.

In the 20th century, freedom-seeking immigrants would take to the streets, marching to prove their loyalty to America. It took World War II and costly, often bloody, civil rights movements to open hearts and minds to at last recognize the humanity of minorities: Black, Asian-American, Native American and LGBTQ — taxpayers all.

In 1982, Northampton lesbians and gay men marched for justice.

The late Bill Ames, a longtime Republican city councilor, broke ground when he joined the marchers. A few participants — notably gay and lesbian teachers — wore paper bags on their heads for fear of losing their jobs. Allies like Bill were there to fill out the ranks as a majority of us stood on the sidelines.

Tolerance is not equal to acceptance. Friends, neighbors and family led the way for generations to feel the folly of judging others.

One more reason for Thanksgiving in 2021.

May I expound on aging? Seniors have thoughts that Gen. X, Y and Z never heard of, ever. The obvious: “That and a nickel will buy you a Coke.” Of mysteries: “It, or he/she/they keeps turning up like a bad penny.”

Oldies spout sayings that drive youngsters into thinking that the world might benefit by our taking, “A long walk on a short pier.” True patriots abhor Jan. 6, 2021. Elected conspirators stink of guilt in their denial? Which, I hasten to say, is still a river in Egypt!

See what I mean?

Persistent Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s event at Forbes Library was marred by a drum-beating fool. She favors a wealth tax. Warren: “The system is rigged to benefit the wealthy and large corporations.” The razor-thin Democratic majority in the Congress wants to rebuild infrastructure, both hard and human — 70% of American voters approve.

Truculent Republican members refuse to participate. Trump’s “big lie” has worked: 74% of GOP voters think the 2020 election was stolen.

For shame!

In the 1930s, FDR proposed programs to cure a depressed country by putting America back to work. Theory doesn’t put food on the table. People were thirsting for leadership, not self-reliance bromides. The Republicans fought Social Security tooth and nail. Working people, at last, had a plan and a pension for life. Dignity demands concern for the little person. The wealthy have an assured retirement. President Biden is working to create a “square deal” for all Americans — in this century!

God bless this food, my family, and neighbors who share in the beauty and bounty of western Massachusetts in our United States of America.

Columnist and poet Jim Cahillane lives in Williamsburg. In 1930, his father, James, happily joined a dwindling quota of 23,445 Irish immigrants.

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