Friday, December 23, 2011
December 23-25, 2011: Making My List 5: One More Wish
[This week, as Chanukah begins and Christmas and Kwanzaa get ever closer, I’ll be blogging about my AmericanStudies holiday list: my requests (to the AmericanStudies Elves, of course) for five changes I’d love to see in our national narratives and conversations. This is the fifth and final entry in that series.]
AmericanStudies Elves, I have plenty more wishes with which I could fill this last post of the week: that W.E.B. Du Bois replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill; that Bartolome de las Casas, Charles Chesnutt, and John Sayles become as famous and as central to our national conversations and definitions as Christopher Columbus, Mark Twain, and Oliver Stone; that any public figure or commentator who expresses even the faintest uncertainty about the birthplace of President Obama be communally and permanently shamed; and many more besides.
But tempting as it might be, I don’t want to turn this culminating holiday-inspired post into a Festivus-like “airing of grievances.” I’d rather cede my week’s last words to one of fiction’s most inspiring speeches (holiday-related or otherwise), delivered by one of its most exemplary individuals; take it away, Scrooge’s nephew Fred (that’s part 1 of the amazing George C. Scott version, which is available in full on YouTube; the speech is at about the 5:00 mark of part 1):
“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say, Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round … as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”
Whatever you believe, whatever you’re celebrating, and wherever and whoever you are, this AmericanStudier and the AmericanStudies Elves wish you a very, very happy holiday season. More next week,
PS. Any holiday wishes or thoughts you’d like to share?
12/23 Memory Day nominee: Madame C.J. Walker, the entrepreneur and activist who both embodies and helps complicate and enrich some of our most fundamental national ideals and narratives (the American Dream, self-made men and women, and more).
12/24 Memory Day nominee: Ava Helen Pauling, a leading advocate for peace studies and human rights and the wife and partner of Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling (whom Ava introduced to the field of peace studies, for which he won the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize).