Plenty to be thankful for


There is no particularly nice way of saying this, so I’ll say it without being particularly nice: If, this Thanksgiving, you cannot find an enormous amount about which to be appreciative, then you’re an ingrate who is in dire need of some perspective on the astonishingly advantageous situation in which, through no great virtue of your own, you have magically come to find yourself.

Don’t say, “but, Dan . . . !” I’m not talking about politics here. I, too, am annoyed about a lot of the things that are going on in Washington, D.C., and beyond, and I’m sure that I’ll continue to be for the rest of my life. Rather, I’m talking about the view from 30,000 feet. Step back a moment and think about how phenomenally lucky you were to be born when you were in human history, and, on top of that, how marvelously fortunate you were to live in the United States of America, out of all the places in the world. It’s a bloody miracle. Had things been a little different, you could have been born in Scotland in the year 762, and frozen your ass off next to a sheep. Or you could have been born in Russia in 1804, and been a serf with a drinking problem. Or you could have been born in some outpost of the Roman Empire, and died at 25 years old. But you weren’t. You won. Congratulations!

Then there’s all the stuff you get to use that you had absolutely no hand whatsoever in creating. Look around you. Look at the machine you’re reading this on. Look at the language in which this post is written. Look at your thermostat. Do you have a chair to sit on? That’s all pretty nice, isn’t it? Glance out of the window. Does it look peaceful, stable, prosperous? Other people did that. They wrote the laws and fought the wars and built the roads and did all manner of terrible jobs, and you inherited all of it with no effort whatsoever on your part. I find it difficult to contain my gratitude for this. Long before I was around, people died on battlefields and toiled in laboratories and argued about constitutions so that, one day, I would be able to pour myself a glass of wine and turn on the NFL without worrying that a barbarian in a Viking helmet might barge through the gate and amble to my door. In all honesty, I did nothing to deserve this. One day, I just woke up, and there it all was.

I don’t know you, of course. Perhaps you’re rich. Perhaps you’re poor. Perhaps you’re a Republican. Perhaps you’re a Democrat. If you’re especially downtrodden, you may even be a Texas Longhorns fan. (Sorry, as a Texas Tech fan, I just had to throw that in here.) But whatever you are, if you’re in the United States, you’re a victor. Like me, you have it better than almost every person who has ever drawn breath. You have the First Amendment, and Tylenol, and air travel, and the internet, and supermarkets, and movie theaters, and indoor plumbing, and rollercoasters, and the music of George Strait. You live in a country with 50 varied and fascinating states, any of which you can choose to live in at a moment’s notice. You have sunshine, and mountains, and rivers, and snow, and the beach, and wide-open spaces to enjoy — and yet, unlike most of your forebears, you’re not captive to them. That’s nice, right?

It ought to be, anyway. At the very least, it ought to be sufficient to give you something for which to say “thank you” on Thursday. It wasn’t always like this, you know. We’d notice if it all went away.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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