Opinion: I give thanks for the future



Shawn Mercer

Shawn Mercer

Shawn Mercer is a senior integrated life sciences major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

As I looked outside Tuesday morning, I was surprised to see a white blanket on the lawn I had mowed the previous day. After doing a little digging, I realized this is typically when the first snow arrives: sometime in November. I had hoped for more fall weather before winter makes its ever-present approach but alas, I was disappointed.

At least I have Thanksgiving to look forward to. Two weeks from Thursday, we celebrate the downfall of the Native Americans and our taking of their land, or that is at least the impression I have gotten from people I have talked to. This is part of a rather systematic history of the United States treating people poorly, they tell me. I disagree with the notion that because we did not get everything right the first time around, we can’t take solace in America being anything special. I am a bit more optimistic.

Cultures clash, and blood is shed; nothing is more constant about humanity. This fact is not a matter of when, but a matter of where, even in the modern world.

I am not justifying conquering and warring as necessary, as we have arrived at a point in history when they may no longer be necessary. The age of large empires seems to have come to a close. Whole continents are no longer ruled from single political centers.

Though there has not been a large worldwide war for 70 years, here in the United States, we have become war weary from much smaller conflicts. We look at the recent Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and are starting to realize we must be more deliberate and careful when waging war. We may not be able to police the world.

If anything has brought about peace in this modern era, it is trade and the threat of nuclear war. China, for instance, has a communist political system, the ultimate enemy only 30 years ago. Now, we trade openly and freely from which we both benefit. Japan, our enemy during World War II, is now an economic powerhouse who we exchange goods and even cartoons with.

It only took two atomic bombs dropped on Japan for the world to realize an all-out nuclear conflict was not worth the destruction. World War III is a war no country wants to start.

We cannot forget our past, but we must not forget we aren’t responsible for it. Our collective past is full of great and awful things, but what we are responsible for is the future. This is what we must remember on Thanksgiving: we can have a bright and peaceful future. We must act in our own lives by treating human beings with the respect and dignity they deserve. In this way, I am optimistic. We have the opportunity to create a better world, and that is something worth giving thanks for.