By Chris Edwards
A few years ago I caught sight of something in the parking lot of the local retail temple known as Walmart that stuck with me.
It was a slogan, rendered in red, white and blue lettering, on a white background. “Make America Grateful Again” is what it said.
The phrase was an obvious callback to the campaign slogan/mantra of the cat who was in the White House at the time, and the font used, as well as the presence of the lightning skull logo, let me know that it was a bit of merchandise from that most jammin’ and unique of American roots/psychedelia/rock bands the Grateful Dead. I’m a fan of the Dead; I mean who couldn’t love Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, right? This sticker, though, transcended my fairweather-Deadhead self.
Later on, in a show of serendipity, I ran into the owner of said bumper sticker (I knew this, or assumed it, because he had a shirt stating the same statement, rendered in the same font with the same skull motif) and made his acquaintance. Even had that chance meeting not occurred, the bumper sticker would still have left an impact.
I love stickers, and to me, they are right up there with newspaper advertising as an effective, and occasionally thought-provoking, medium by which to convey a message.
I come from a DIY background of promoting music gigs and found that getting stickers printed up for shows was always an essential part of a band or artist’s promotional toolbox. I can’t count the number of bands/artists and venues I’ve gotten curious about (and later checked out) because I saw a logo or name printed upon a sticker.
Last Thursday was the officially sanctioned, solitary day that all good taxpaying Americans are required to sit down, break bread and wax faux-emotively about what all they’re thankful for, golly gee, but here’s the problem with that: limiting the celebration of gratitude to one holiday that, let’s face it, is just a mandate by the cranberry and turkey lobbies, is disingenuous at best.
Yet here we are. So many of us seem to only mouth words of gratitude at the dinner table on Thanksgiving, only to return to wallowing in woe-is-me pronouncements as soon as the last piece of pumpkin pie is gobbled down.
Several years ago, a leading scientist, Robert Emmons, wrote that being grateful is good for our bodies as well as our minds. Emmons has studied the effects of gratitude on the physical health of humans for more than a decade and posited that a host of benefits were possible with those who practice gratitude, such as stronger immune systems, fewer aches and pains and lower blood pressure.
In the mental health column, Emmons reported findings of higher levels of positivity, optimism and happiness.
Celebrate the present, for it’s all we know that we have for sure and hail the good around you.
Let’s be grateful for one another and this time that we are afforded. Make America Grateful Again, indeed.