Let’s do something different this Thanksgiving. Let’s give thanks for what we have and those who bequeathed it to us. Then go further, since eating turkey and watching football is not enough. Take an easy first step to reforming America.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
— Excerpt from George Washington’s First Presidential Thanksgiving Day Proclamation on 3 October 1789
The Founders created Thanksgiving Day understanding that our good fortune was political: the opportunity to build and maintain the Republic. We have lost that awareness, but today can begin to regain it. On this Thanksgiving Day invite others to help reform America. Awaken their recognition of the Republic’s peril. Discuss the problem. Encourage them to act. It’s the ideal after-dinner conversation.
Their likely reaction: excuses.
The lesser excuse for passivity: these problems are not our fault. Ignore this feint; no matter the cause, America’s problems are our responsibility to fix.
The greater excuse: reform lies beyond our ability. Too difficult! There is no logical rebuttal to this. But America was built by attempting things most peoples would not attempt. Still, attempting to save the Second Republic — or build the Third — might prove as difficult as anything in our political history since the Founding.
So what do you say when someone asks how we will accomplish this, despite the great forces arrayed against us, despite our divided and weak state? I recommend this answer:
We will set fire to the rain.
Enigmatic, open-ended, provocative, loaded with unseen meaning. It points to sunny days beyond the storms that loom over the horizon, but that we know will soon hit us.
We do not yet know how to set fire to the rain. To take the first steps we need only confidence that we can build a better America. We merely need confidence that we can rely on each other — on the American people.
A first step is to recruit another person. Later will be time enough for analysis, planning, and organization. Recruiting someone today thanks our forbearers in the most meaningful sense possible — by continuing their work.
Best wishes to your and your family.
About the song
The song “Set Fire to the Rain” is by Adele (2011). See the lyrics here. See the video below
Other Thanksgiving Day Notes
- A Thanksgiving Day note, 25 November 2010
- Looking back on USMC thanksgivings, reminding us of things for which we should be grateful, 24 November 2011
- Let’s give thanks for America’s luck, and try to deserve it!, 22 November 2012
- For Thanksgiving, Walmart shows us the New America, 19 November 2013
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