The Holiday of Thanks falls halfway between the Holiday of Fear (Halloween) and the Holiday of Joy (Christmas). That suggests one must be thankful for one’s blessings before overcoming fear of bad stuff, some of which is real and some imagined. Many Americans fear the path upon which they’re being led by their nation’s leaders, and for good reasons. In itself, fear can be good or bad, depending upon one’s reaction to it. The instinctive physiological reaction is a choosing between fleeing and fighting. Either can be the better choice, depending on the circumstances.
A current movie tells of the end of the world; in 2012. Some have credited its popularity on one possible interpretation. Why worry about the economic crisis, cultural clashes, etc.? It’s all going to be over in a few years; enjoy what you can right now. That’s the flight choice. A fight choice may be an instantaneous decision but it does require a nanosecond or two to assess the weapons available to fight successfully. The Holiday of Thanksgiving is assessment time.
America’s blessings flow from the American trinity of Democracy, Theocracy and Meritocracy as intended by the Founders. None of these were invented by the Founders; each had been tried in human societies many times; never successfully and lastingly. The American invention was in allowing the best features of each to emerge while muting the worst features in a harmony of opposition; each against the others.
Through the ages, democracy has had a poor record of success. Usually, it’s resulted in anarchy, lopped heads, defeat by neighboring states, dictatorship, in some combination. The problem is not the concept that people are best governed by the people but that people have human failings that must be taken into account. The American version of democratic government addressed the problem of human failings with law (U.S. Constitution) and organization that provided checking and balancing of power. It relied on aspects of theocracy and meritocracy within the national culture to temper the “hardness” of raw democracy and influence original law of the land. The intent was to assure freedom and equal opportunity for individual citizens; to protect against any “tyranny of the majority”; to minimize government size and locate it close to the governed.
Theocracy has prevailed more often than democracy and has failed more dismally. Even Christ emphasized that religion and politics are separate realms of power. But, it was Judeo-Christian beliefs that provided the foundation of personal freedom upon which modern Democracies are erected. More importantly, it was the moral code that shaped American culture and permeated the U.S. Constitution in many ways. Similarly, it calmed the wildness of unbridled meritocracy.
Meritocracy is a broader and better word(s) than market (or free) economy. It’s definitely better than capitalism. It implies that people who have skills and work hard can succeed without being an absolute guarantor of huge success. At least, it guarantees that one has a fair shot. Even more importantly, it guarantees that the government will not steal the fruits of success from citizens.
Many special interests have tried to disarm us from these powerful weapons. We retain them, at the moment. For this we should give thanks and wield them confidently, in great joy.