Tags: Barack Obama | Israel | Paris Attacks | Supreme Court

Be Thankful for America

Be Thankful for America
Thanksgiving: Ellis Island (AP) 

By Monday, 23 November 2015 02:51 PM Current | Bio | Archive

One of the many things I love about America is that it has a national holiday devoted to thanking God for our blessings but not one devoted to complaining about our problems.

A cynic might say that’s what we use the other 364 days of the year for. Those complaint days aren’t formalized as national holidays, though. Thanksgiving is, which points to something positive in the American character.

Like many of America’s best phenomena, Thanksgiving operates on a communal, national level and also on an individual one. Presidents have declared days of Thanksgiving after national events such as the ends of wars.

But Americans tend to celebrate Thanksgiving not in mass rallies — with the exceptions perhaps of some football games and the annual Macy’s parade — but in smaller, often-family-oriented groups.

So in the spirit of the intersection of the individual and the communal, let me share a few things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving

.I am grateful to be living in America and not in some less-free country like China or Iran or Syria.

For all of America’s problems and imperfections, it’s still a place that people are trying to get into rather than get out of.

Relatedly, I’m grateful that my own forebears were able to get into America before the laws were changed to make it harder to get in, or in spite of those rules.

When I listen to Republican presidential candidates talking about building bigger walls to keep immigrants out, or changing the laws to make it harder for some people to get in, I wonder what the Pilgrims would think.

I’m grateful that the effort to force healthier eating habits on Americans — soda taxes, trans-fat bans, different school lunches — hasn’t yet extended to restrictions on turkey gravy or apple pie.

I’m grateful that none of my immediate family members died in recent terrorist attacks at Paris, Mali, or Israel, and I am hopeful that those attacks might spur a more sustained effort to defeat the Islamist terrorists.

I’m grateful for the members of the American military forces and our allies who are on duty today serving on the war’s front lines.

I’m grateful for the American health care system, which for all its bureaucratic frustrations and medical errors, even after Obamacare seems somehow to manage to provide life-sustaining, near-miraculous cures to people that in other countries might be doomed to death.

Partly as a result, American life expectancy keeps increasing, which means we’ll all have more Thanksgivings to celebrate together.

I’m grateful for technology, which has made it simple and relatively inexpensive to video chat with relatives far away who can’t be at our Thanksgiving table in person.

Technology also means I can use the Google Maps app on my phone to find the quickest route through the Thanksgiving traffic.

And it allows the E-ZPass transponder on my car to charge my credit card automatically for highway tolls, allowing me to avoid the delay of waiting in line for a human toll-collector to make change.

I’m grateful for good teachers.

Despite all the complaints about the American education system — the failing inner-city public schools and mediocre suburban ones, the outsize influence of unions, and the political correctness and soaring tuition afflicting college campuses — many of us are where we are today in part because of the influence of good teachers.

I’m grateful we have a Republican Congress to check the excesses of President Obama and grateful we have President Obama to check the excesses of the Republican Congress.

Okay, so it’s Thanksgiving, and I’m in an unusually charitable mood.

While we are on the topic of checks and balances, I am grateful we have a Supreme Court to step in and strike down laws that Congress and the president sometimes get together to enact despite the fact that they violate the Constitution.

I’m grateful to live someplace where the taxes are lower, and gas costs less, than in New York City, Washington, D.C., or California. Speaking of gasoline costs, I’m grateful that recently I’ve been able to fill up my car with gas that costs something like $2 a gallon instead of $4 a gallon.

I’m grateful for the progress that our country has made over the years in civil rights and opportunity for women, gays, blacks, and Hispanics.

I’m grateful that the stock market is up, and the unemployment rate is down, from where they both were at the depths of the financial crisis in 2009.

After Thanksgiving, we can all go back to complaining. Our country and the world do have plenty of room for improvement. Here’s hoping that taking some time to appreciate what we have makes further progress in the future seem within reach.

It’s not a sure thing. But if we work on it, we just might have even more to be thankful for next Thanksgiving.

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of "JFK, Conservative." Read more reports from Ira Stoll — Click Here Now.


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After Thanksgiving, we can all go back to complaining. Our country and the world have plenty of room for improvement. Here’s hoping that taking time to appreciate what we have makes further progress within reach. We might have even more to be thankful for next Thanksgiving.
Barack Obama, Israel, Paris Attacks, Supreme Court
Monday, 23 November 2015 02:51 PM
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