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EDITORIAL: Remembrance, hope and the Thanksgiving to come

Sitting down with family and friends this week, there will be acknowledgement for the blessings that bring us to the table. Prayerful thanks will be extended for the present and future. The joys of union and reunion will be acknowledged in knowing nods to the feast and the commotion. Glasses will be raised for all the ways that life interrupts and renews itself without warning.

Last year on this holiday we could not have anticipated the events that disrupted our nation, our families and our fellow Americans. For each year on Thanksgiving we are given the renewal of knowing American optimism: Our lives are good; they will only get better.

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving 2017 arrives with ugly realities of American life. The year has given us a divisive and disruptive leader; hateful politics; meddling in our democracy by a foreign enemy; 307 mass shootings, including those at a church, a concert and schools; racism masquerading as nationalism; a national epidemic of abusing and harassing women; and a general sense of trepidation in daily life.

The year leaves us searching for better angels. It is in the spirit of that quest that we recall “And the Fair Land,” the Thanksgiving editorial by Vermont Royster that The Wall Street Journal publishes every year:

“ ... a traveler cannot but be struck on his journey by the thought that this country, one day, can be even greater. America, though many know it not, is one of the great underdeveloped countries of the world; what it reaches for exceeds by far what it has grasped,” he writes.

Royster suggests that, despite our faults, we can reach for something better. How would our lives look like if we held to a redefined sense of manifest destiny based on human kindness? From where would our wisdom or patience — our hope — come? How could we account for these new faces at the Thanksgiving table or for the faces we’re missing this holiday?

The condition of being human means we cannot foretell with any accuracy what Thanksgiving will bring. We can hope and imagine, but when the next Thanksgiving arrives we’ll have to take account again, as we do today, of how the unexpected has shaped our lives. That will mean, too, accounting for how it has enriched us, blessed us and given us reason to behave better.

Our conduct as humans leads to another angel, Mahatma Gandhi. On Thanksgiving, it is both counter-intuitive and profound to recall the ascetic Hindu from India who fasted for nonviolence. Asked what he thought of Western civilization, the Great Soul observed, “I think it would be good idea.”

Let us pause on that idea this Thanksgiving and toast what we cannot know and could not have guessed. Here’s to hope for Western civilization and the unexpected ways our lives will merge in Thanksgivings to come. We think it would be a good idea.

Comments


LTM couldn’t give thanks without ripping into the President.  Couple of points you forgot; The only meddling was done my liberals in the Democratic primary.  A national epidemic of “liberals” harassing women.


I am thankful Hillary is not the President1

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