By Vincent L. Hall
“You may not have a car at all, but just remember brothers and sisters, you can still stand tall. Just be thankful for what you’ve got. You may not drive a great big Cadillac; Diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin’ the scene, with the gangsta’ lean.” – William DeVaughn, 1972
If there was a 1970’s anthem that wouldn’t die, this one is it. William DeVaughn is another in the long litany of American “One-Hit Wonders” that got his fifteen minutes of fame. DeVaughn worked full-time at the US government; he only had time for one. Where’s yours? Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity for you to consider what you do have. The blessings you are in possession of. The world hasn’t changed much since 1970. The list of rich people is shrinking and the list of poor people is growing. There is a middle class, but it’s shrinking… Fast!
Back in the day, they used to try to keep up who the “Joneses.” Now it’s the Kardashians, but the concept is still the same…Most of us aren’t grateful for what we have because we are inundated daily with all the things we don’t have. You can’t blame everything bad on social media.
Money guru Dave Ramsey remixed something he probably heard in a black pulpit, but it is true. “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” The Tempting Temptations said as much in their hit in 1969. Being unappreciative is as American as apple pie, and there are no racial or gender divides within those ranks. DeVaughn and most of us who follow R&B were introduced to the “model” family by the Temptations, in a hit entitled; “Don’t let the Joneses, get you down.”
“You’re lying to yourself but you don’t even know it. You’re so busy following the Joneses; you ain’t got time to show it. Keeping up with the Joneses, it’ll only make your life a mess. Bill collectors, tranquilizers and getting deeper in debt. You may not believe it, but nine times out of 10 it’s true. The people you’re trying to keep up with…Are trying to keep up too!! This Thanksgiving, do something besides winnowing in selfpity and regret about what you don’t have. My Grandmother had a song that solved the issues that William DeVaughn and The Temptations exposed.
“When you look at others with their lands and gold; think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold. Count your many blessings; money cannot buy, your reward in heaven nor your home on high. Count Your Blessings, Name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done.” Thanksgiving ought to be an everyday, grassroots, gerrymandered, politically motivated campaign.
As Americans, we need to start from the bottom of the poverty scale and work our way up. The district of need has already been identified. We relegate the needy among us to smelly shelters, stuffy basements or the sidewalks of our streets.
At least the Kardashians seemed to have learned something that the Joneses never discerned. Joy doesn’t come from what you have. Real joy comes from what you share. It may be all show, but it delivered one woman from a lifelong jail sentence.
Find a way to make a difference. Feed the homeless and then starve the policies and politicians that make homelessness a staple of our culture.
Keep your ass out of that mall on Black Friday. You got televisions in five rooms and don’t need another one.
Spend Black Friday cleaning the clutter and then donate that gluttonous pile to the poor. Be thankful and count what you DO got!!!
Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist and award-winning journalist.