388 years of gratitude

thanksgiving2009

This thanksgiving, Americans of every color and creed will sit down to a dinner with family, friends, and loved ones. Some will give thanks that at least one person in their home still has a job. Another will give thanks that the misfortunes of his neighbor have not been visited upon him. Another will give thanks at seeing sons and daughters who have moved far away. There will be thanks all around.

And for some, that thanks will last but a few short hours. They will wake up the next morning and their world will be infested, in their eyes, with a humanity that makes them miserable. No one does anything as they should. They certainly don’t do it as quickly as they should. Whatever latest slight or inconvenience or imagined injustice, they get up every morning and see it. They will bring no happiness to a room, or to a meal, until the next Thanksgiving, and we as a nation are far less for it.

Republican or Democrat, you cannot profess your victimhood, you cannot storm the citadel of education and proclaim your entitlement, you cannot view the profession of external values and shrink in horror, without being ungrateful. I speak to you, and I say to you, the life of the folly is empty of gratitude and full of anxiety. Because your unhappiness brings you to tear down the society around you, to transform it utterly, you pursue that which will only brings more misery to everyone.

  • The more prohibitions there are, the poorer people will be.
  • The more laws, the more thieves and bandits there will be.
  • Do nothing, and the people will of themselves be transformed.
  • Love quietude, and people will live straight.
  • Act only by concerning yourself and people will prosper.

I was consoling a good friend of mine who was going through a bitter period. He had woken up the morning upon returning from a weeklong trip to Hawaii with his wife, to find a process server standing at his door with divorce papers. Moments afterward, he was told that the child he had been expecting had been aborted. He had gone to a therapist, he had taken up another hobby, and many other things I could relay from my past with tragedy. First and foremost, I told him how “you must not see yourself as a victim” and relayed a short tale.

As a teenager I attended military school in (then) West Germany. World War 2 history was a fascination for me and I explored every piece of information I could. One was a German documentary about one of the oldest survivors of the death camps. His wife, his children and grandchildren, all had perished. Yet, he had survived. Remarkable given that before the war he had a heart condition. When asked how he had been able to survive, he remarked “there were a few of us who decided we would not be victims. The Nazis could tell us where to sit, where to stand, where to shit, where to eat, whether we could live or die. But the one thing they could not do was make us victims.” He lived 31 more years.

That appeared to give my friend a positive lift, but then his demeanor grew dark. “I have put love and family at the center of my life. I have built everything I know and believe around it. What am I going to replace it with?” I didn’t relay all of what I will relay now. But I did say “Gratitude. Happiness is an afterthought. Gratitude is an affirmative choice. Be grateful for what you DO have, be grateful for the sunrise, be grateful you have another chance… be grateful.” He thanked me for brightening his day, we hung up, and I went back to my writing.

Everything hangs on one’s thinking. (…) A man is as unhappy as he has convinced himself he is.

As a classic liberal of the Hayek and Friedman school myself, I have watched the Left go so far off the deep end that it no longer even remotely resembles its classic leaders of the last generation. John F Kennedy would be a Republican today because of where the Left is attempting to take the country.

Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right-not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this hemisphere, and, we hope, around the world.

And underpinning it all is the distorted, fantastical world of the modern progressive. Where America is the problem. Where America’s past is a shame. Where all that she accomplishes isn’t enough. Where all the freedom she brings is pilloried. Where her enemies are lifted high.

People who say “Wouldn’t it just be better if we weren’t the country that was born in slavery?” come from a society which has far less to offer than this one, or went to college, and they are completely ignorant about the rest of human history.

We must heal our misfortunes by the grateful recollection of what has been and by the recognition that it is impossible to make undone what has been done.

The salient fact isn’t that America was born in the era of slavery. So was EVERY OTHER country born more than 250 years ago. The salient fact is that this country is almost solely responsible for ending slavery, not just here but to the shores of Tripoli and the rest of the world. And to say anything less shows a complete lack of gratitude and shows your lack of character.

People who pretend to make themselves victims of racism in this country usually come from a country where immigrants who moved in are still referred to by THEIR homeland three and four generations later, if people move in at all. Or, again, they’re college educated. The day after you arrive here, you’re an American. Today, there are more african americans who have immigrated here since emancipation than are descendants of slavery. So, in many other places, your message doesn’t ring true. And never has.

What’s the good of dragging up sufferings which are over, or of being unhappy now just because you were then? (…) When troubles come to an end, the natural thing is to be glad.

The most tolerant society in the world and you have miserable, unhappy people who want to pick the pockets of working people proclaiming themselves victims. “You owe me something.” No regard for obligation. Only entitlement. You don’t get that way by simply thinking you’re better. A normal person can only justify such an attitude because they feel victimized. Everyday. Walking down the street. There, he looked at me funny…it happened again. They drive around with those silly COEXIST bumper stickers. Take that bumper sticker to the land of Chavez and see if you can COEXIST. Their whole existence is to proclaim intolerance in the land of tolerance. Misery in the land of plenty. This is how they make themselves unhappy and miserable, and make the whole salient soup of American society unhappier one bitter drop at a time. Ungrateful.

Students march and riot on California campuses because they will have to $10 a day per class instead of $7.50. And they think they’re ENTITLED to money, from people who work hard and don’t proclaim their victimhood, and that that excuses their behavior. Ungrateful.

Not happy he who thinks himself not so.

People violate our immigration laws everyday and no sooner do they get to the place that 95% of the rest of the world would trade places with them to be at before they proclaim themselves “victims” for being asked to obey the law. Ungrateful.

Wild animals run from the dangers they actually see, and once they have escaped them worry no more. We however are tormented alike by what is past and what is to come.

People who have nothing better to do, spend their time behaving as if they are smarter than 2500 years of human history and protest special rights for a single group of people. And only people who can declare this under the banner of “victimhood” would be able to do it with a straight face and say they are the ones with morals and dignity. Ungrateful.

There are people who proclaim that this society has no culture. The only nation in the world that has a culture of ideas, these words can only come from those who are xenophobic to any ideas but their own, those who can say “if you have my skin color, I am certain you will think like me.” This culture is exceptional based on its unique values, shared by no other country. They are on every coin. E Pluribus Unum, In God We Trust, and Liberty.

We don’t care where you come from, we believe in religious tolerance, and we value Liberty FIRST. Not co-equal with equality. FIRST. That’s our culture. It’s what gives you what you came for, or what you take for granted. They are the values of the culture that made America the shining example for the rest of the world. If any of this is objectionable to anyone, you came here from someplace else and only listen to state run media, or you went to college, and you are… Ungrateful.

To the ungrateful, I say, quit making victims of yourselves. Stop behaving as if your behavior is acceptable because you feel you can call yourself wronged or short-changed. None of that changes the character of your actions.

Gratitude arises in response to a gift given freely by another. America gives its gift freely and it expects nothing in return. The same way that no obligation can be given to repay gratitude, or you make it a commodity.

But it is gratitude makes one a better person, a more virtuous person. It builds bonds of harmony and community. Ingratitude is a vice that destroys the individual and disrupts the harmony of society that ties us all together.

Be grateful.


About Terry Crowley