Monday, November 19, 2007

Mark Steyn's Thanksgiving address

Blessings close to home.

Speaking as a misfit unassimilated foreigner, I think of Thanksgiving as the most American of holidays.

Christmas is celebrated elsewhere, even if there are significant local variations: In Continental Europe, naughty children get left rods to be flayed with and lumps of coal; in Britain, Christmas lasts from Dec. 22 to mid-January and celebrates the ancient cultural traditions of massive alcohol intake and watching the telly till you pass out in a pool of your own vomit. All part of the rich diversity of our world.

But Thanksgiving (excepting the premature and somewhat undernourished Canadian version) is unique to America. "What's it about?" an Irish visitor asked me a couple of years back. "Everyone sits around giving thanks all day? Thanks for what? George bloody Bush?"

Well, Americans have a lot to be thankful for.


Three hundred and 14 years ago, the Pilgrims thanked God because there was a place for them in this land, and it was indeed grand. The land is grander today, and that, too, is remarkable: France has lurched from Second Empires to Fifth Republics struggling to devise a lasting constitutional settlement for the same smallish chunk of real estate, but the principles that united a baker's dozen of East Coast colonies were resilient enough to expand across a continent and halfway around the globe to Hawaii.

Americans should, as always, be thankful this Thanksgiving, but they should also understand just how rare in human history their blessings are.
Prosperity, democracy, liberty: these are not normal conditions of humanity. They are rare and usually fleeting. Take them for granted, cease to guard them, and they will soon be gone. RTWT and give thanks.


Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

I had no idea you were unassimilated, Hector. Is that anything like being a known philatelist? (Misfit is another matter entirely, however, and I'll reserve comment. ;-)

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

oops! I see I misread and that it is Steyn who is unassimilated and a misfit. Never mind...