Or at least most of us in the privileged countries, particularly me.
For what should i be giving thanks? Where to start?
OK, i was born in America in 1941, immediately after the Great Depression that brought misery to much of the country and sparked Roosevelt’s New Deal that dramatically leveled the playing field and made possible the great expansion of the middle class that began in the late 1930’s and lifted millions of Americans into unparalleled prosperity in the booming 1950’s after we’d won The War, a war in which my father was not drafted since he worked in the oil fields that fueled our victory, so i had the advantage of both parents at home throughout my childhood.
Young people now may find it hard to imagine that in those days ordinary men with high school educations could hold jobs that paid well enough they could buy a comfortable house for twice their annual income, and tens of millions of Americans did so. Most of our mothers didn’t work outside the home because Daddy’s income was sufficient. The main reason my mother started teaching when i was in grade school was not from financial necessity but rather that she was bored stiff being a housewife stuck in an oil camp in the west Texas semi-desert thirty miles from the closest small city.
So i grew up in a financially secure environment (if fairly frugal owing to my parents’ impoverished childhoods) and except for a brief period when i had trouble finding a teaching job after i got my MA just as the teacher shortage ended, i’ve always had enough money to live comfortably.
I also grew up a white male, which was an even greater advantage in those days than it is now although again, i can believe young people finding this hard to imagine, not knowing some of the features of that society.
For example, a married woman could not open a bank checking account. See, she didn’t need her own account because if it were necessary for her to write checks, her husband could allow her to be a cosigner on his account.
And of course outside of teaching and nursing, the jobs available to women were almost entirely menial.
Not that they weren’t far better than the jobs available to non-whites. My father worked for an oil company, and not a single employee was anything other than Caucasian. Nor were any of the teachers in any of the public schools i attended. For that matter, the first time i attended a school of any kind in which there was a single black student was when Texas Tech was quietly integrated in the summer of 1960 between my freshman and sophomore years.
And when the old barber in the tiny oil town of Goldsmith, Texas retired, a Mexican barber came to town and tried with great trepidation taking his place, and much to everyone’s surprise the great majority of the men, including my father, went ahead and let a Mexican cut their hair….and their boys’ hair. It helped that he was a better barber, and Ramon was the first Mexican worker in Goldsmith…and his kids were accepted in the elementary school! Wow. Radical breakthrough. And look what happened when we gave ’em an inch.
So yes, thanks to being a white male born in the right place at just the right time, i’ve led a charmed life and have a lot to be grateful for. I was just enough ahead of the curve that the growing economic inequities since the ‘eighties haven’t caught up with me. And i’m old enough now that i’ll die before i’m priced out of gentrifying San Francisco or sunk to scavenging for squirrels in the upcoming economic meltdown, whichever comes first.
Hell, i even got invited to a Thanksgiving dinner by my friend Steve and gorged until i was nearly sick, but that was his fault for serving such good food.
For all of which i give thanks. Oh, and speaking of giving thanks, here’s William S Burroughs’ Thanksgiving prayer.
To graphically illustrate how low this country has sunk, the Swedes are now flying their flag on Market Street. Can socialism be far behind?