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Despite troubles, Americans have many reason to give thanks
The Providence Journal


November 23, 2005

Some Americans may feel that there is less to be thankful for today than usual. America has been battered by war in Iraq, conflict in Afghanistan, nasty political squabbling over the Iraq war, high energy prices, corporate downsizing, and a series of devastating storms, one of which has left an important city a shell of its once-vibrant self. And we are told that a bird-flu pandemic may lurk. (Admittedly, the news media scan the horizon for headline-grabbing disasters, real or imagined.)

Nevertheless, we have countless reasons to give thanks on this holiday.

We are blessed to live in freedom, - a treasure often secured with the blood of America's young. This freedom lets us question our representatives in government, and demand, and ultimately get, something better.

We are blessed to live in a country that can rise above its uglier past when moved by simple acts of moral courage. Consider the recently deceased Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a bus on that fateful Dec. 1, 1955.

We are blessed by an economy that has shown astonishing vitality in the face of war, terrorism, storms, and international competition - it continues to grow, and to produce jobs. Indeed, the U.S. economy has expanded for most of the last two decades. By many standards of world and U.S. history, today's Americans live in a time of unprecedented bounty. This is not to say, of course, that poverty has been eliminated, or that aspects of modern life - ever-increasing materialism, distractibility, loudness and frantic, often mindless speed - don't deserve attention. The quiet gloaming that follows today's feast might be a proper time to contemplate ways to reduce these pathologies.

Meanwhile, we are also blessed that free markets are helping solve some of our problems. Higher energy prices have reduced consumption and encouraged conservation. And now that prices are coming down, gasoline (adjusted for inflation) is well under what it was in the early 1980s.

Most of all, we are blessed by good people. Just think of how many Americans care about their neighbors, and seek to help feed, clothe, and house the poor and otherwise disadvantaged among them. Indeed, a fine way to express thanks - throughout this whole holiday season - is to join the ranks of those who share.



Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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