A different reason to give thanks on Thanksgiving

Summary: On Thanksgiving let’s give thanks for something greater than our peace and prosperity – for the spirit that built America. It is something within the hearts and minds of those before us. Let’s prey that spirit still lives in us. With it we can overcome our challenges and ensure many more happy Thanksgivings for America.

American Thanksgiving - dreamstime_80488813
ID 80488813 © Marco Ponzi | Dreamstime.

Thanksgiving is one of America’s few meaningful holidays in a nation that has been blessed with incredible natural resources and even more incredible good luck at key points in our history. But our greatest resource is one we have built for ourselves: America’s strong social cohesion. Our ability to stand together has carried us through the severe crises of the past two centuries.

Now a new time of crisis begins, and – as always – centrifugal forces appear to alienate us both from our past and from each other. This makes us easy to lead.

Thanksgiving offers an opportunity to remember who we are. We come together to celebrate and recall our shared history. Let’s remember that America belongs to us. No matter how powerful our foes, foreign and domestic, we are responsible for America.

See the work of the late Christopher Lasch for an analysis of our situation, especially his last and greatest work: The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy (1994). For a musical reminder of who we are, suitable for Thanksgiving, see the “The Egg” by Sherman Edwards from the musical “1776”. It explains why we have the eagle as our national bird – not the turkey or the dove. It is fun and inspirational, well worth five minutes of your time.

Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

Lyrics to “The Egg”, one of the many great songs in 1776

Adams:
It’s a masterpiece, I say!
They will cheer every word, every letter.

Jefferson:
I wish I felt that way.

"1776"
Audio CD: Available at Amazon.

Franklin:
I believe I can put it better
Now then attend, as friend to friend
On our Declaration Committee
For us I see immortality.

All:
In Philadelphia City.

Franklin:
A farmer, a lawyer, and a sage
A bit gouty in the leg
You know it’s quite bizarre
To think that here we are
Playing midwives to an egg.

All:
We’re waiting for the chirp, chirp, chirp
Of an eaglet being born
We’re waiting for the chirp, chirp, chirp
On this humid Monday morning in this
Congressional incubator.

Franklin:
God knows the temperature’s hot enough
To hatch a stone, let alone an egg.

"1776" DVD
The film: Available at Amazon.

All:
We’re waiting for the scratch, scratch, scratch
Of that tiny little fellow
Waiting for the egg to hatch
On this humid Monday morning in this
Congressional incubator.

Adams:
God knows the temperature’s hot enough
To hatch a stone.

Jefferson:
But will it hatch an egg?

Adams:
The eagle’s going to crack the shell
Of the egg that England laid.

All:
Yes, so we can tell, tell, tell
On this humid Monday morning in this
Congressional incubator.

Franklin:
And as just as Tom here has written
Though the shell may belong to Great Britain,
The eagle inside belongs to us!

All:
And as just as Tom here has written
We say to hell with Great Britain!
The eagle inside belongs to us!

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about ways to reform our politics, and especially these about Thanksgiving…

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"1776" book
1776

The book version

1776 by David McCullough.

From the publisher …

“America’s beloved and distinguished historian presents, in a book of breathtaking excitement, drama, and narrative force, the stirring story of the year of our nation’s birth, 1776, interweaving, on both sides of the Atlantic, the actions and decisions that led Great Britain to undertake a war against her rebellious colonial subjects and that placed America’s survival in the hands of George Washington.

“In this masterful book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence – when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.

“Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King’s men, the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known.

“Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough’s 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history.”

9 thoughts on “A different reason to give thanks on Thanksgiving

  1. While i think that this should be a real solution to some of our problems in this country, i am afraid that this will not be realistic. One of my many progressive relatives (who i love dearly, and does not recognize her own partisan viewpoints as being partisan) suggested that we follow the thanksgiving suggestion in this article in the “paper of record”.

    I hate to direct anyone there, since after forty years of reading this paper end to end on a daily basis, it is now so contorted and biased that i find it difficult to read even the headlines without vomiting. So below is the text from this article, intended to offer us a new ability to give thanks to everything, except perhaps the country and the good parts of its history (you know the part where everyone in the world, of every stripe and color, years to come to despite its supposed faults,” racism, sexism, and homophobia” and genocidal tendencies, and liberty):

    How to Be Grateful Without Rolling Your EyesHow to Be Grateful Without Rolling Your Eyes” by A.J. Jacobs – “Sure, telling dinner guests what you’re thankful for can feel contrived. Do it anyway.” A.J. Jacobs is the author, most recently, of “Thanks a Thousand.”

    It was all i could do while reading this to NOT ROLL MY EYES. and particularly to not vomit. When i pointed these incongruities out, that in fact it was those “racist, sexist, homophobic” people that had created not only the surgery but the anesthesia that the author so cherished, it makes one wonder where the madness stops. We really do need to stop the dysfunction, and remember what this country means to all of us. Not how bad we all were, and that we are all so racist, and sexist, etc. but that we are all Americans and that it is now time to move forward, rather than digging holes in our wounds, we need to bind them and heal them. But that might be asking too much from people who claim to offer thanks while at the same time ripping their own and others eyes out because of their own self hatred.

    PS Full disclosure, it is I who am the libertarian uncle (not the cousin) in our family who is tolerated, despite my excruciatingly different views on the world. If only i could “woke”(hahaha)…actually if only they could wake up…

    PPS i am not sure that even with quotations and references that this can be reposted here,, so feel free to edit as needed.

    1. Sorry- minor edit: “that it is not time to move forward, rather than digging holes in our wounds, we need to bind them and heal them.” Should have been it is NOW time to move forward

    2. Barry,

      Your comment was ~1500 words, longer than a post. Also, it is a copyright violation to post an entire NYT article. I deleted the article’s text and it was 425 words. A big long, but nicely written and focused. Tell people about an article, perhaps with a brief excerpt, and they’re more likely to read your comment.

      As fpr the op-ed, it looks great imo. This is an accurate statement. It describes what progress looks like, for which we can be grateful.

      “But the good old days were not good at all. They were violent, disease-ridden, smellier — and people were more sexist, racist and homophobic.”

      The good old days were nightmarish in a material sense by our standards. And spiritually nightmarish in many ways. But we can be grateful for the progress that brought us here. For example, that the slave-holders of the South helped create a nation that would eliminate slavery and (eventually) give African-Americans equal political rights.

  2. I wish a Happy Thanksgiving, especially to all the acute observers of the pendulum of life, swinging way past the equilibrium point (let it be the ‘Affirmative Action’ or ‘Me Too’ or what-not…), soon reaching the apex of ‘zero-motion and all potential’ and then, ever so slowly and peacefully, returning back, in its seemingly endless cycle toward the other extreme. Where then could we employ a friction of sort, to at least slow down the pendulum, when we’re all aboard? We can’t suspend the laws of physics — but we can work together with all the players involved and reconfigure the distribution of the pendulum mass to slow down the pendulum as much, as to reach a tolerable apex on either side. We shall never stop the motion, just try keeping it within some sensible limits…

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

    (No, this was not an excerpt from the dreaded 1902 “Just So Stories…” — J.R.K. nevertheless)

  3. Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s a good history of Thanksgiving by church historian Stephen Nichols.

    Our liberal relatives should be encouraged to repent of their ingratitude for the enormous wealth they’ve been given by God in this country and believe in Jesus. If you want to shut down a conversation with a liberal, Jesus is the Way. It’s pointless wallowing in the muck with them in some “black-is-white” argument.

    Larry,

    I liked 1776 for its history of the generalship and political leadership of the time. I like this book for its history of the common patriot.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. Kummer. Your blog is one of the things I am thankful for. Often I disagree, sometimes fundamentally, but I feel you are fair and thoughtful. It is always a good reminder that despite what everyone wants to sell – either to each other, or to themselves – we do all have a lot in common.

  5. Nov 27, 2014 The Real History of Thanksgiving, How Squanto Screwed Up

    In this video you will find out how the Bush family almost never existed and how FDR sold out thanksgiving for corporations.

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