Giving Thanks – At What Price?

As I sit here in the stillness of the early dawn, gazing through picture windows at the freshly falling snow enfolding the surrounding forest in its soft embrace – my heart overflows with gratitude.

Gratitude for the beauty of nature we are still able to enjoy – not yet spoiled by the insatiable appetite and relentless juggernaut of the ‘development’ syndicate.

I am grateful for the pristine water overflowing our rain barrels, and the amply stocked cellar.

I am grateful for the shed full of firewood, gathered from the surrounding deadfall by our family’s own labor, and the blazing woodstove giving us comfort and warmth.

I am grateful to have our entire family home together – an increasingly rare occurrence as the older children become ever more involved in their independent lives and pursuits.

I am grateful for the health and wholeness we all enjoy.

I am grateful that we still have our hopes and dreams intact – vibrant, pulsing with their own life and irresistable purpose – undaunted by adverse circumstance or the seeming impossibility of their fulfillment.

I am grateful to have, yet a little longer, the freedom to write these words and express these thoughts without fear of censorship or retribution, and to be able to share them with people all over the globe.

And I am grateful to bask in the unwavering love and devotion of my beloved mate.

I have so very much to be grateful for, every single day.

And yet, as I sit here in the warmth and comfort of our home, secure in our safety and togetherness, listening to the familiar sounds of our children’s gentle breathing – turning softly in their sleep with occasional murmurs echoing from their private and unknowable dreamscapes, other sounds – dim, yet relentless and unceasing, insinuate their way into my awareness, as other images arise to replace the peaceful scene around me.

The sharp report of gunfire, muffled by great distance, yet impossible to ignore, intrudes upon my quiet reverie.

I hear a woman’s screams, followed by the wailing of inconsolable grief.

I hear explosions, ripping apart the night as the horizon is scorched by fiery blooms of death – eclipsing the darkness with their baleful orange glare.

I hear the roaring crescendo of heavy tanks and the desperate pounding of fleeing feet, followed by relentless outbursts of machine gun fire.

I see the fiendish blaze of white phosphorous, casting harsh shadows amongst the nightmare scenes of human carnage.

I hear screaming jets and the thunderous concussions accompanying their deadly payloads of ‘liberation’, in the wake of which there remains no sound at all – only the unbearable stench of burning flesh amidst a landscape of unimaginable hell.

I see the starving, bloody and dismembered survivors – shuffling through desolate streets strewn with human wreckage and pooling rivulets of crimson mixed with the nacreous irridescence of oil.

I see the leveled shells of homes which once housed the cherished hopes of other families – sheltering the uneasy dreams of other children – their breaths mercilessly silenced while they slept by the ruthless gifts of ‘democracy’ from above.

I hear the ceaseless moans and demented mutterings of human wraiths, maimed not only in flesh, but in mind and spirit, wasting in their foul, loathsome cells – unknown, unseen, uncounted – rotting in an endless horror of the most hellish torture chambers that could have been devised by an inconceivably malevolent hatred and cultivated in the most depraved and abominable depths of human consciousness.

I see also legions of human slaves – forced by despotic regimes and cruel economic repression into involuntary servitude – laboring for endless hours in dark treacherous mines and toxic factories, or struggling with backs twisted and bent by their unforgiving loads in the fields of the ‘new global economy’.

And as these visions fill my mind, and the cries and laments of the countless multitudes of oppressed humanity rise and merge into a continuous roar of anger and despair, I ask – at what price?

At what unthinkable price do I enjoy the standard of living I possess and the material benefits so easily taken for granted – the vaunted, and virulently defended ‘American Way of Life’?

How much blood has been spilt, how many of my fellow human beings have been senselessly slaughtered, how much of the earth has been lain waste – poisoned for centuries or perhaps millennia to come, while untold myriads of lifeforms are exterminated – to ensure that we continue to have our cars and TVs, our computers and cellphones, our fast-food restaurants and our shopping centers – and our so-called ‘security’ and ‘freedom’?

Who pays for it all?
To which subcontinents do we export the crushing, insupportable burden of our debt?

From which third-world countries, ravaged by the exploitation of Western Capitalism and beaten down by the iron fist of Western-financed and protected dictatorships – to secure the flow of cheap goods and the continuance of cheap labor – do we import our own slave labor?

And upon which defenseless lands and peoples do we deposit our nuclear waste in the form of depleted uranium shells?

What is the cost to the rest of humanity – and the rest of the planet – of our overladen tables, our overfull bellies, our topped-off gas tanks, and our endless streams of credit?

And what is the meaning of Western-style ‘freedom’ if people in the rest of the world must be deprived of theirs to sustain it?
What is the value of our ‘abundance’ if others must live in abject poverty and enslavement to subsidize it?

It is light now.
The landscape lies peaceful – untroubled by the sounds of explosions – the clean snow unstained by blood.
The house is filled with the sounds of happy chatter and cooking food.

Yes, I am extremely thankful for what I have – but I would rather give up all the material advantages and carefree lifestyle I possess than know that they come at the price of the deprivation, oppression, and even the lives of others – or that my dreams come at the cost of theirs.

I cannot truly enjoy the material advantages by which I am favored unless I know they are shared by my brothers and sisters around the world – until I know that their suffering and subjugation is not the price of my freedom and abundance.

And I will not rest until this is so.

Sphere It

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