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The Joys of Solitude – A Thanksgiving!


The Joys of Solitude – A Thanksgiving!

Ralph Nader

Thanksgiving is a time for family, food and joy, but unfortunately it can also be a source of health-impacting stress and anxiety for many. Between the influx of visitors, football games on the television and the necessary shopping, cooking and cleaning up, there can be far too little time devoted to reflective conversation with friends and family.


From Emerson's "Self-Reliance" (relating to solitude)

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age.


Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.


What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.


But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.


Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half-possession. ... Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.


Thank you Ralph. You are one of a shrinking number of reasons for giving thanks this year (of living dangerously.) The video stuck for me and I had to click it on and off every second but. I'm so glad you had that maple tree, those woods and the parents who let you become who you are.


Men might be forgiven for the use of the male pronoun a century ago, but these days, using "person" is far less offensive to half of the human race.

"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather..."

Thinking about the contrast between the American who typically has a huge Thanksgiving meal and all of those desperate families attempting to escape the brutal wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and beyond... one wonders what can they do to stop the pain?

In alignment with Mr. Nader's inspired words on solitude, a return to the Biblical idea of a Sabbath would do much.

Imagine if--as Sabbath was declared--all fighting ceased, all machines tearing into the beloved earth came to a halt, all labors and laboring took a collective in-breath in resonating to a therapeutic Rest Beat.

IF millions of people did this, used social media and the Internet to set up this full stoppage... it would bring the War Machine to a halt and out of that gap--and related reflection--new possibilities would occur; and they would not grant to war and violence the primacy that it's held (and held humanity hostage by) for too many centuries.


Solitude sometime finds you. It was a September morning, about 4:30 am, I and several hundred young men were standing in line waiting for breakfast at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri. It is amazing how quiet several hundred young men can be at 4:30 in the morning. So although among others, it was as if I was alone, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. What? I looked up, I have not experienced a starry night of its kind and magnitude since, awesome, infinite, spiritual. I don't remember if I was philosophical about it at the time, I don't think so. As Wordsworth said about poetry, it is emotion reflected in tranquility, alas, I'm no poet.


If sports were outlawed on Thanksgiving day, would the athletes complain that the ban was being shoved down their throats? Does anyone here know when and how the tradition of sports on Thanksgiving day started?


Mr. Nader, can super-rich Trump save us?


Thank-you Ralph.

I likewise could not spend enough time as a child wandering in the woods - and one needn't travel to far-off places to find wonder - most people even in urban areas have woods and parks a short walk out their doors. For me it was the woods and creek where my suburban street in Fairfax, Virginia came to an abrupt end- a place where I would wander simply marveling about things.

I'll never forget this hilltop in the woods with this monstrous monolith-like 6 ft. diameter standing dead tree trunk that extended right into the canopy of the big 100 ft tall oaks. Enormous fallen-tree logs and limbs, bigger than any of the standing trees, also lay about the woods in those days. I assumed that they came form some mysterious past time when everything was bigger. Only much, much later did I learn that I was seeing the remains of the now gone - even from the memory of almost everybody - American Chestnuts (sorry, I always feel compelled to capitalize the names of trees) - the kings of the eastern US hardwood forests that succumbed to the human-introduced chestnut blight..

But now, It is rare that I meet an neighbor or acquaintance who can recognize and name a single one of the trees or birds that fill the eastern US forests.

No, I won't be shopping tomorrow.


I wish we had a national "Don't Shop" holiday in which all Americans contemplated the global destruction of the environment, the rapid depletion of finite resources and the slave labor associated with mass production. At Christmas we began a tradition over ten years ago that insists that our presents or gifts had to be 'hand made' whether it was a compilation of easy listening songs for my grandmother or a knitted sweater from my sister, a ceramic mug from my 6 year old nephew or a whole tray of freshly baked cookies from Mom. Instead most families spend massive amounts of money to purchase slave made, petroleum based, unnecessary gadgets that quickly become either broken, discarded or out dated. Our bloated landfill sites add millions of tons of rubbish without the slightest concern of the consequences of our impulsive purchases. Almost magically our garbage and sewage disappear from our sight to make room for our next ill-conceived, Wal-Mart "reduced" items without so much as a moment of introspection. No one seems to blink an eye at the global destruction we're all contributing to as "Shop till you drop" ads have trumped all of our moral values as we have surrendered religion and empathy for our fellow citizens for the perpetual acquisition of more junk and the worship of a celebrity culture. Maybe 'Earth Day' could morph into a bigger message for humankind? Just looking for ways to counter our imbalance between nature and corporatism.


There is a "don't shop day". - Back in the days of culture-jamming and the Battle of Seattle, when Naomi Klein was young and really good-looking, before the term "Black Friday" was coined, the Friday after US Thanksgiving WAS designated "Buy Nothing Day" by various anti-capitalism organizations. But in the US anyway, it is now almost forgotten as your post suggests.


Thanks Yunzer, I didn't know that. I guess it faded away. It is pretty hard to compete with corporate media though.


Wish people had had the good sense to elect this man as president.