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Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Richard on November 24, 2016

I hope you’re enjoying this wonderful holiday, and I commend to you An Objectivist Ode to Thanksgiving by Jennifer Anju Grossman, the CEO of The Atlas Society, in which she offers “a Thanksgiving prayer that can appeal to secularists and religionists alike.”

For many Americans, Thanksgiving dinner begins with a prayer.

It is a chance to hold hands, to take a pause, to give thanks. Ayn Rand, firm exponent of reason and the originator of a philosophy for living on earth, would not have approved of praying to a deity.  Yet insofar as prayer is defined by the dictionary as a “solemn request or expression of thanks to an object of worship,” she certainly would have approved of a prayerful thanks during this holiday — and she did.

In one letter to friends — a Spanish painter and his wife — she emphasizes that she and Frank (her husband) wanted the couple “to come in time for Thanksgiving, so that we will have occasion to give thanks.”

After you read the rest of that, do me—and yourself—a favor and go read The real Thanksgiving story. And in case dinner isn’t ready yet and the ball game is boring, here are some other Thanksgiving posts you might enjoy:

  • 2007: This Thanksgiving, celebrate the producers — Features Debi Ghates’ wonderful explanation of what you should be thankful for and who you should thank.
  • 2008: Happy Thanksgiving  — A funny/sad story about kindergarten kids celebrating Thanksgiving. It features cops and accusations of genocide.
  • 2009: Thanking the producers again  — This time with lots of help from Jim Woods. Also, remembering the anniversary of the Jihadist attacks on Mumbai.
  • 2010: Best wishes for Thanksgiving  — Features John Stossel’s and Fouad Ajami’s thoughts on the holiday. You might enjoy Ajami’s thoughts on our Thanksgiving cuisine.

I’ll finish with a reprise of the song I posted last year. It seems even more appropriate after all that’s happened this year. If the election results have led to tension among your Thanksgiving guests, have them listen carefully to Don Henley’s “My Thanksgiving” (from the 2000 album Inside Job). It’s the perfect song for today, and one that hopefully will help them put any concerns and disagreements into perspective.

[YouTube link]

A lot of things have happened
Since the last time we spoke
Some of them are funny
Some of ’em ain’t no joke
And I trust you will forgive me
If I lay it on the line
I always thought you were a friend of mine
Sometimes I think about you
I wonder how you’re doing now
And what you’re going through
The last time I saw you
We were playing with fire
We were loaded with passion
And a burning desire
For every breath, for every day of living
And this is my ThanksgivingNow the trouble with you and me, my friend
Is the trouble with this nation
Too many blessings, too little appreciation
And I know that kind of notion-well, it just ain’t cool
So send me back to Sunday school
Because I’m tired of waiting for reason to arrive
It’s too long we’ve been living
These unexamined lives
I’ve got great expectations
I’ve got family and friends
I’ve got satisfying work
I’ve got a back that bends
For every breath, for every day of living
This is my Thanksgiving
Have you noticed that an angry man
Can only get so far
Until he reconciles the way he thinks things ought to be
With the way things are
Here in this fragmented world, I still believe
In learning how to give love, and how to receive it
And I would not be among those who abuse this privilege
Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridgeAnd I don’t mind saying that I still love it all
I wallowed in the springtime
Now I’m welcoming the fall
For every moment of joy
Every hour of fear
For every winding road that brought me here
For every breath, for every day of living
This is my Thanksgiving

For everyone who helped me start
And for everything that broke my heart
For every breath, for every day of living
This is my Thanksgiving

I hope that’s as meaningful to you as it is to me.

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8 Responses to “Happy Thanksgiving!”

  1. Jan said

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Rick Shultz said

    Happy Thanksgiving Richard. Good post. Don’s songs are usually a good way to wish the world a good day or tell the world why it’s not. He’s a hell of a songwriter.

  3. Rick Shultz said

    I HAVE to ask this. DAMMIT Richard, why can’t all atheists be as logical, and as civil and agreeable as you? Why do 99+% of them have to be such assholes? You have every right of course to simply tell me that it’s because all religious people are such assholes, and if you choose to do so I guess I wouldn’t much of a counter argument but surely you’ve noticed this? I go out of my way to NEVER give you a hard time about being an atheist and you have shown me the same courtesy for as long as I have known you. Why is it so damned hard for some of our compatriots on both sides to do the same?

    • Richard said

      I don’t know, Rick. I guess the flip answer is that Sturgeon’s Law applies to both religionists and atheists. Honestly, speaking as an atheist, I’ve found that atheists are more likely to be assholes than religionists. On the whole, atheists tend to be more “evangelical,” i.e., trying too hard to promote atheism to those not receptive to the message, and/or obnoxious, annoying, and insulting. I suppose it’s at least partly because of their minority status. It seems to me that many members of minority groups, whether ethnic, religious, political, or what have you, tend to be like that. There’s a lot of truth to the generalization that short men have a chip on their shoulder.

      Personally, I long ago came to the same conclusion that Ayaan Hirsi Ali finally came to: that, although all religious belief is rooted in at least a partial rejection of reason and therefore wrong, some are more wrong and some are much less wrong. Christianity, as it evolved via the work of Aquinas and the reformation begun by Luther, is in the latter category.

      I’ve known many Christians and Jews who are reasonable, rational (for the most part), respectful, and kind toward those like me who don’t share their belief. I can’t say the same for atheists or those of any other religion. Certainly, in the socio-political realm, I’ve found much more common ground with conservative Christians and Jews than with atheists, who are largely leftists (not that there aren’t plenty of leftist Christians and Jews).

      So I guess I’d agree with you that most atheists are assholes, but I suspect it has a lot to do with their political beliefs (opposition to capitalism, the US government, and the existing social order and those who benefit from it).

      Many religious people are also assholes, but in my experience, the percentage is much lower for Christians and Jews than it is for Muslims and Hindi. I don’t know enough about other religious groups to have an opinion.

      So to summarize, you’re right, there are a lot of assholes out there. I’m glad that neither you nor I are among them. 🙂

  4. […] shopping, etc., I haven’t prepared a Thanksgiving post. So I’ll simply direct you to last year’s post, where you’ll find some worthwhile links and a great Don Henley song for this holiday that […]

  5. Jan said

    Happy Thanksgiving. Good post. I thank God I have you for a friend. 🙂

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