With Thanksgiving Day coming up fast, it is vital to recognize that a rule of our flawed human nature is when human luxury and comfort increase, gratitude is thrown out the window.
Living in the United States in the 21st century means living in the wealthiest nation, and the most sumptuous time period in history. We have what those living 100 years ago, much less 1,000 years ago, could not have conceived of: air conditioning, roadways, cars, jets, television, Netflix, fast food, medical care, theme parks, the internet, the cloud, iPhones and the rest. All these things, we have in overabundance.
And while many of our modern niceties are enjoyable, they have also paved the way for gluttony, greed and vice to flourish. How else do you explain Las Vegas?
As we have become wealthier, we have also become more depraved. Things that would have been unthinkable just 20 years ago, the widespread acceptance of transgenderism for example, have become the norm.
While those who lived in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries had far more difficult lives, those trials gave them an appreciation for what they had. Something seriously lacking today.
But it was not always this way. Let us go back almost 400 years ago.
Nearly everything we know about the first Thanksgiving in 1621 comes from a brief letter written by Edward Winslow, one of the leaders of the Pilgrims who travelled to the New World aboard the Mayflower.
“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors,” Winslow begins his letter. After describing how they had hunted enough birds to last nearly a week, Winslow wrote about how the Native Americans joined them with their king Massasoit whom they “entertained and feasted” with for three days.
“Although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty,” he concluded his letter.
Picking up on this first Thanksgiving, American presidents down through the centuries have followed in this tradition and declared national days of thanksgiving for the country to observe.
President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 as a “day of public thanksgiving and prayer” with his first National Thanksgiving Proclamation.
“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… 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,” Washington stated.
“That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks… for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed… 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,” he added.
President Abraham Lincoln followed suit and began our modern tradition of Thanksgiving by declaring the last Thursday in November as a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Writing on October 3, 1863, President Lincoln wrote in the midst of the Civil War, “the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”
Now, to the modern Leftist.
The ever-increasingly authoritarian Left seeks to overthrow the liberties won by our founding generation because it does not appreciate the sacrifices of those who have given their all to sustain and establish our freedom.
The Founding Fathers were willing to give their “Lives… Fortunes and… sacred Honor” in order to establish a new nation, “conceived in liberty.”
And yet, many on the modern Left aren’t grateful for their sacrifice. There is a reason that the frequent rioting, looting and violence that we have witnessed in our streets this year have come from those on the Left. Without gratitude for those who came before, history appears worthless. And without an appreciation for how much our nation has grown, all of our problems today appear far bigger.
In the words of Dennis Prager, “Almost everything good flows from gratitude, and almost everything bad flows from ingratitude… ingratitude is almost always accompanied by anger.”
So, this Thanksgiving, remember to be grateful. It’s what preserves our past and provides promise for the future.
In the words of President Lincoln, let us all “fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity [sic] and Union.”
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