The weather here in Southern California has changed — Its cooler — a little overcast. It feels like fall, it feels like Thanksgiving. I am happy about that — This holiday, the most American of all holidays, is best when celebrated around a feast table, with it cool outside.
This holiday is celebrated by Americans so we can take a breath, at least at half time, and acknowledge just how fortunate we are. We work hard, and we reap the rewards. We don’t take them for granted, and this holiday reminds us of that.
Some say its difficult to be thankful with the natural disasters that have hit our country, the war, and all. How can we be thankful? People have lost their homes, they are dying in foreign lands, there are no blessings to count.
First, I think a little perspective is in order. When New Orleans was hit, the projection was that 10,000 were killed and it would be a year before the place was dry. Both projections, made by our friends in the media, were wrong, by a factor of at least 10. We were going to see $5 a gallon gasoline forever, there would be no heating oil, and the economy would tank and the ripple effect of the disasters would be felt for a generation. The economy is supposed to be terrible, unemployment is up, poll numbers are down, consumer confidence is in the dumpster.
How about a reality check:
Gasoline is under $2 in some places, averaging $2.30 and still falling. Heating oil is flowing.
As for the economy, 15 straight quarters of growth — lowest unemployment rate in a decade, under 5%
Consumer confidence is up — retailers expect a healthy 5% increase over last year for the Christmas shopping season, and last year was a good year.
GM is laying off, but Toyota and Nissan in the US will be hiring at least as many as GM has laid off. Business in America has had the most successful year in recent memory.
We hear grumblings about the war — but what has happened.
Every benchmark we have set has been reached on time. The country had free elections, selected a group to write a constitution, wrote and approved a constitution on schedule, and will elect its government in the next few weeks. The terrorists are making huge mistakes on every turn, the latest in Jordan, and the Arab street is turning against them. Successes in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, Chechnya, Georgia,and even some positive moves in Israel/Palestine show us that things are better in the world. Even including the war in Iraq, there are fewer conflicts going on now than at any time in the past 40 years. Peace and democracy are breaking out and based on how these things usually work, at warp speed.
Is it perfect, certainly not, but we are moving in the right direction.
So we give thanks — thanks that we live in a country that is so strong and robust that we can weather storms and still remain healthy.
Thanks that through our actions peoples around the world are freer and healthier.
Thanks that when we each have problems, we are empowered as individuals to fight our way through them and come out stronger than before
Thanks that we are giving more than ever before for the eradication of disease around the world, that our charity knows no bounds.
Thanks that when we whine and complain, its about insignificant things like traffic, bad TV, and politicians who act like politicians.
Thanks that the problems here come from having, not from lacking.
We give thanks that for all our faults, our foibles, and our problems, there is no better place to live nor a people more committed to an idea and a way of life. We have a holiday, an American Holiday, that reminds us to be thankful for what we have, as a country, a people, and a culture.
Its cool outside. Leaves are cluttering the yard. We will be able to have a fire tomorrow. All is right with the world.
Happy Thanksgiving, 2005.