I like to think that I count my blessings every day, not just on Thanksgiving Day. This year, I’ve had numerous occasions to reflect on the manifest blessings in my life, and my country. I was fortunate to be born in the United States of America, which has, since its founding in the 18th Century, been a beacon of light, hope, and goodness in the world. Up until the founding of this great country, the lot of the vast majority of human beings on Planet Earth has been squalor, poverty, disease, backbreaking work, and often early death. Families had to produce many children in order for a few to survive birth and childhood. Few were educated at all, and even fewer attained a high level of education. Farmers destroyed huge forests to clear fields for planting, and those fields sometimes lost their fertility quickly, necessitating more forest destruction. Plagues regularly decimated entire populations, and no one knew why or how to stop them.
How different is our world today! How many people now consider it a right, to grow up healthy and happy, graduate from college, and pursue a lucrative career doing whatever makes them happy. Our Founders bequeathed to us a Nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that All Men are Created Equal (hat tip, Abraham Lincoln). Contrary to sometimes popular belief, Americans are the most generous, most virtuous, and happiest people on Earth. The USA has been the greatest force for Good ever imagined, and millions of people in many countries have US generosity and help to thank for their position today (we virtually rebuilt Germany and Japan after World War II, and they are some of our greatest allies today). When a natural disaster occurs anywhere on Earth, everyone looks to the United States first to jump in and make things right. Minority groups such as my people the Jews, and black people, have found their lives immeasurably improved here in the United States, where we can go to school, live well, and earn a very good living just about anywhere. Did you ever stop to think about why so many people from all over the world are clamoring to get into the United States? As much as others may denigrate the USA, they still view living here as the best place to live!
I am properly grateful to God for allowing me to have been born in the USA, lived in a beautiful area for most of my life (the Pacific Northwest), and having health, earned wealth, and a family (though no children). I am married to a wonderful man who has a great job, and is an excellent provider. I myself have a pretty good job, at a company that makes products that improve peoples’ lives every day. We both derive great joy from being able to play music, which enriches our lives and others’. I own my house free and clear, both of our cars are paid off, and we are able to put away money for the future, while being able to buy just about anything we need today. We have many friends, especially our musician friends, and our Ricochet online (and offline) family.
One of the benefits of being fairly well-off is the ability to give some money away. I find that it is delightful to be able to donate to causes that we believe in. Just last week, I was thinking of how much I am going to enjoy writing a “Christmas present” check at the end of the year to Hillsdale College. It’s actually fun, deciding whether to donate to the Music department, the College Library, or the History department. This year, I gave donations to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the American Friends of Yad Vashem (the Holocaust memorial museum in Israel). Yes, the Joy of Giving is real. And I find that the more I give, the happier it makes me.
So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for everything I have, and the people I love, and our great country, which is the Greatest Country on God’s Green Earth. And for everything my fellow humans have done to make this world a better place to live for everyone.