A Thanksgiving Celebration That Honors “The Real Story”
By Alison Klein | November 12, 2015
This post is part of our Conscious Consumerism series to encourage our readers to live – and buy – responsibly. As marketers in the purpose economy, we see it as our job to help people make purchasing decisions that align with their values and contribute to the greater good. Want to learn more about our mission? Download our Manifesto.
People are very skeptical these days. Though in some contexts this quality is frustrating, it’s very refreshing in others. Take, for example, the holiday just around the corner: Thanksgiving. In school, I was spoon-fed a heartwarming narrative about how the Indians (yes, that’s what they were called) took pity on the hungry colonists and shared their knowledge of food-production. In celebration, the two groups shared a hearty meal commemorating the harvest and their collaboration. End scene.
I know now that this version of events isn’t a good recap. Not only does it fail to convey what really happened, it commits the grave error of using a cheery tableaux to characterize the relationship between the colonists and Native Americans, which in reality involved way more genocide than meal-sharing.
The glut of information now available to anyone with an internet connection makes it possible to seek out truth – like the real story of Thanksgiving – with minimal effort. It isn’t difficult to find the bigger picture, the nasty details and alternative perspectives. Encouraged by this, we’re becoming increasingly unwilling to accept neat little narratives in pretty packages. We know there’s more, and we’re determined to find it.
When we search for the truth around today’s Thanksgiving celebrations, the bounty many of us enjoy as United States citizens stands out: most of us enjoy comfort, safety and a lot of food. Even though roughly 805 million people in the world suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2012-14 (United National Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO), more than 30% of groceries in the US are thrown away each year (US Department of Agriculture).
The UNFAO found that while around 11 million of the world’s undernourished people live in developed countries, unsurprisingly hunger more frequently afflicts those in developing countries (the other 791 million). For the most part, those of us here in the US are super-consumers: we buy stuff we don’t need, we throw out what we don’t use and on Thanksgiving, we make a point of feasting. The “real story” here is that our actions have an environmental and social impact that reaches far beyond Plymouth Rock.
If we are really thankful for our good fortune, the least we can do is try to celebrate Thanksgiving in a way that honors those upon whom our abundance depends. After all, true gratitude depends on understanding the plenty we have. Our “having” comfort shouldn’t take comfort and safety away from others. Ideally, our purchases should create a positive impact for those less fortunate than ourselves.
As you plan your Thanksgiving dinner, I encourage you to find products without dark secrets. Consuming consciously on this holiday shows a determination to consider the story behind what we see and act justly based on that reality. Here are some tips to guide you: