"Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller

Tuesday, November 25, 2003
On Thanksgiving:

If you read the papers and the commentary contained therein, lest the major media outlets be accused of actually reporting ‘news’, you may come to the conclusion that the earth is on the verge of spinning off its axis and hurtling headlong into the sun. And, if you read further, you will no doubt find the cause of this impending disaster is the fault of none other than W, with a little help from both houses of the Republican controlled congress.

To read the pages and websites it is easy to assume they have been written by people who spend most of the day sucking on pickles.

I for one, choose to look at the bright side of the picture. Yes, there is one. For a glimpse, I quote from David Brooks’ piece in today’s New York Times:

The drop in crime rates over the past decade is nothing short of a miracle. Teenage pregnancy and abortion rates rose in the early 1970's and 1980's, then leveled off and now are dropping. Child poverty rates have declined since the welfare reform of the mid-1990's. The black poverty rate dropped "to the lowest rate ever recorded," according to a 2002 study by the National Urban League. The barren South Bronx neighborhood that Ronald Reagan visited in 1980 to illustrate urban blight is now a thriving area, with, inevitably, a Starbucks.

The U.S. economy has enjoyed two long booms in the past two decades, interrupted by two shallow recessions, and perhaps now we're at the start of a third boom. More nations have become democratic in the past two decades than at any other time in history.

In his forthcoming book, "The Progress Paradox," Gregg Easterbrook piles on the happy tidings. The air is cleaner. The water is cleaner and we are using less of it. Our homes have doubled in size in a generation and home ownership rates are at an all-time high. There are now fewer highway deaths in the U.S. than in 1970, even though the number of miles driven has shot up by 75 percent.

See? I told you there was a bright side.

So, as we gather around tables across the nation, to feast upon the bounties of this great land, and of course to watch hours and hours of football, let us also reflect upon the blessings we have. In October 1789, George Washington signed the first proclamation of a National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer.

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 favor; 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:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted' for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

(signed) G. Washington

This coming Thursday will mark the 214th anniversary of this truly American holiday. Give thanks for what you have, however little or much that may be. Give thanks for those who are far from home, who may be gathering around a camp stove and an MRE. They do what they do so you may live as you like.

“Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” – Matthew 5:9

Here endeth the lesson.

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