Be Full of Thanks to God for America

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday dedicated to giving thanks to God. Historians and pundits offer conflicting descriptions of the evolution of this holiday, but for all of its history, the core purpose of Thanksgiving is to give thanks to God for the abundance and goodness He provides in our lives.

We teach our children to be grateful to God for their homes, families, churches, and abundance, and for the communities of extended family and friends who love and support them.

Adults see the goodness in their lives in larger and more ethereal terms, and express gratitude for our freedom to live and worship as we choose. We are grateful for the strength of our nation, for the safety and personal security that results from a society based on the rule of law, not of men, and for the prosperity that stems both from the freedom to achieve and from the broad protections of and respect for individual liberty and individual rights.

America’s greatness, abundance and historic “exceptionalness” is due in overwhelming measure to the wisdom our Founding Fathers infused into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and to the structure of government and the political and economic systems those venerable documents created and evolved.

Thankfully, the Founding Fathers turned to God to find that wisdom, which they needed as they bravely stepped outside of the historic template of nations based on perpetuation of royalty, military conquest, or preservation of ethnic identity.

Instead, our Founders chose to establish a nation based on rights that come from God, to all, equally. They based this nation on ideas such as the idea of the rule of law, ordered liberty, and the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Rather than creating an arbitrary list of rights, they discerned that these rights already and naturally existed, and that they flowed irrevocably from God to the individual. And the government they designed was created to protect, not define or limit those rights.

Protecting these rights and enabling men to enjoy them required and naturally evolved the right of private property ownership, so that men were not as slaves, serfs or sharecroppers whose livelihoods and potential were forever shackled by others.

No nation is without its historical mistakes and imperfections, and the Founders’ inclusion of slavery in the Constitution, and later segregation, are ugly and egregious examples of our country’s gross missteps, though they are also wrongs that were righted internally and on the basis of the God-given rights the Founders had laid out as our standards.

America struggles today amidst the turmoil created by those who would fundamentally change America away from the nation our Founders created, based on God-given freedoms and the private property and free markets that naturally evolve from those freedoms, into a nation falling into the poverty, despair and pit of big-government socialism. It is wise to briefly recall the first episode when America ventured into socialism, though that word did not yet exist.

In 1620, when the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower set about the task of farming the land in this new world, they practiced what today we would call socialism. All 100 settlers were invited to work on the entire plot of cleared land, and the resulting crops were to be divided among the group according to the needs of the individuals and families. (From each according to his ability, to each according to his need: or put another way, no connection between the work performed and the amount of food awarded.)

Not surprisingly, scant crops were yielded because many failed to work hard. Young men who did not have families and who worked the hardest naturally complained that they were working to feed other men’s children.

Also unsurprisingly, the crops and colony thrived after the elders conferred with Governor Bradford and switched to a system in which each person was required to work to grow crops on the plot of land he owned, to feed his family. You can read about this first failed American venture into socialism in Governor Bradford’s book Of Plymouth Plantation.

Little has changed in human nature in the 391 years since the Plymouth socialism disaster. Those who seek socialism now purport to support the eradication of poverty. While no system on earth prevents all poverty, and not everyone thrives at every moment in America, our record of caring for those in need through public and private means is unsurpassed on earth. Private property, and a link between how hard you work and your recompense, encourages work, and creates stability and productivity.

So as you share your Thanksgiving feast with family and friends, as you serve your fellow man by volunteering to serve a Thanksgiving meal at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, give thanks of course for God’s immediate blessings in your life. But also, give thanks for a nation based on God-given rights and freedoms, which our Founders figured out centuries ago were the bedrock of a free, prosperous, productive and happy people.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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