Let's be perfectly honest about the American holiday that is Thanksgiving. A long time ago, some of my ancestors (read, white Europeans) came across the ocean to a land that wasn't theirs. The reasons may have been decent in their minds - they felt oppressed by the English government, didn't want to pay high taxes, and may or may not have used religious persecution by the Church of England as a convenient excuse. But even if the motivation behind the exodus was sound, that doesn't change the outcome - that white Europeans stole a land that had been previously occupied by a native people.
The holiday of Thanksgiving has evolved over time to a “general celebration of thanksgiving.” But its roots focus on just one particular event in an attempt to gloss over the irony of the celebration - that these native people who would soon be forcibly displaced saved the dwindling settlers from certain death.
What can be derived from this arguably contrived and likely inaccurate historical telling, is this - in spite of our differences, and the malevolent forces at work in the world, we have something that connects us all and gives us a reason not only to be thankful, but come together and make difference in the world.
In our case, we have the love of this beautiful game, and our mutual adoration of Real Madrid in particular.
Now you may read this and scoff. And I don't blame you. Currently, the world is kind of a mess. In the US, we have some seriously scary times ahead with our new president-elect. The Standing Rock protesters are being harassed and abused and the media is all but ignoring it. We have a growing inequality issue perpetuated by a country steeped in fear, treating others with different color skin, different ethnic heritages, different religious view, different sexual orientation as if they were less. And that's nothing compared to real travesties around the globe. Syrian refugees, conflict in Palestine and most of the middle east, Russia, ISIS, tsunamis and earthquakes - these make the uncertainty in the US pale in comparison.
So with all this chaos in the world, me trying to focus a blog article on looking past all that, and espousing that the love of some game of sport is supposed to transcend the madness to provide some global connector and impetus for benevolence could certainly seem absurd.
But bear with me while I explain myself.
Even if our connection is simply the love of this beautiful game, or perhaps strengthened by our adoration of this magnificent club, we are still connected. We have a bond that is more than many share, and as brothers and sisters who share this bond, we get to decide how to shape our world. And I firmly believe that focusing on what we have to be thankful for, and looking for the good in others and our commonality rather than difference is the best position from which to start.
So I propose that we need to think big regarding our connection and start small in how we choose act each day.
As we think about how amazing it is to get to watch Real Madrid continue their 30 game winning streak, move on to the group stage in the UCL yet again, maintain a four point lead in La Liga in spite of continuing injury issues; to get to be a part of this club, even if it's as simply and distant as getting to watch them on the TV and interact with one another on this blog, we can start to affect change right here in our own little microcosm. We can treat each other with kindness and respect, and even the random Cule who shows up. That's just the beginning. If we take a step outside our little Managing Madrid world, we get to decide how we are going to interact every single day with our families, our coworkers, the people we meet on the street. We get to choose whether we react with self-righteous indignation, impatience, judgement. Or whether we, in our appreciation for the good in life, let that carry through to every interaction - in understanding, kindness, mutual respect.
I realize that this post is pretty cheekily pie-in-the-sky, "let's all change the world" fluff. But as I think about this holiday (at least the vague "expression of thankfulness" that it has become) in contrast to so much of the struggle, hate, and fear that consumes our media-driven worldview day-to-day, I felt the need to express my thanks for being a part of this blog, its community, and everything that is Real Madrid. And in the spirit of thankfulness, offer some thoughts on how great it would be if we could, in our shared appreciation, affect even just a tiny bit of change in our world.
Sometimes, I think it’s the responsibility of those who find themselves in the position to reach others to make an attempt to use their reach for good. Or at the very least, offer a reminder that no one will ever be able to dictate to us how we choose to interact with one another. And even though many of us might have much to be concerned or even fearful of, we should, every chance we get, focus on the things that bind us rather than divide, and, whenever possible, be thankful for what we do have - even if the only thing we have to be thankful for is this beautiful game and this magnificent club.
Whatever holiday you may be celebrating, wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a great day with much to be thankful for.