walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Feed
Features
Reviews
Podcast
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles this month. A quality publication is not cheap to produce.
Subscribe today and support The American Interest—only $2.99/month!
Already a subscriber? Log in to make this banner go away.
Published on: November 24, 2011
America Has Yet More To Be Thankful For

Throughout our history, Americans have benefited from the extraordinary riches and resources of the wealthy land in which we live.  Compared to any other country on earth, Americans enjoy more fertile farmland, better internal communications by water, rich and diverse mineral resources, a more favorable climate, a more favorable position in the world’s commerce,  and […]

Throughout our history, Americans have benefited from the extraordinary riches and resources of the wealthy land in which we live.  Compared to any other country on earth, Americans enjoy more fertile farmland, better internal communications by water, rich and diverse mineral resources, a more favorable climate, a more favorable position in the world’s commerce,  and friendlier neighbors: our home truly flows with milk and honey.

On this Thanksgiving Day we should reflect in gratitude for the abundance that shaped us as a people and still flows for us today, and see how yet again we are poised to enjoy new blessings in the time ahead.

For this is a Thanksgiving on which America’s energy future is looking suddenly brighter: it turns out our continent has quite a bit more oil and natural gas than we thought.  In the US itself, vast and formerly inaccessible reserves of oil and natural gas are coming on line thanks to new technologies.  Environmental challenges remain as we learn to use these technologies more effectively and with less damage, but these are the kinds of challenges Americans have repeatedly solved.

And the new energy abundance isn’t restricted to our own soil.  Canada’s tar sands are second only to Saudi Arabia as an energy reserve; Brazil may be even richer in oil than Venezuela.  Our country is becoming less dependent on the Middle East all the time.  From the Financial Times:

Already, imports have fallen to 46 per cent of America’s consumption – down from 60 per cent in George W. Bush’s second term. That number is likely to keep falling. Less than a fifth of the US’s oil now comes from outside the western hemisphere. That could dwindle to negligible levels in the near future. “The Middle East will figure less in America’s energy supply and become increasingly critical to China and India,” says Mr Yergin. “This is likely to have big geopolitical repercussions.

The political and social ramifications of these windfalls are profound. Waves of “brown jobs” in places like Ohio, Michigan and upstate New York can give the Rust Belt another chance and provide new generations of middle class jobs for hardworking Americans.  Americans will be less dependent on the whims of dictators and foreign kings; less of our wealth will flow to the Middle East and more of our trade will be with neighbors as the western hemisphere becomes a richer and more integrated place.  Canada and Brazil, two democratic countries with a history of good relations with the US and who share many of our values and hopes, will play a larger role in the world.

Last week, America reshaped Asia. This week, oil seems to gush everywhere we tread. It is Thanksgiving time once again in America.

As always, Americans face the tasks of using our natural resources in ways that give help to the hapless and opportunities to all, and of acting responsibly and constructively in the wider world.  Neither of these jobs is easy, and we have often failed at both.  Thanksgiving must always be a little bitter-sweet as we reflect on the sad gap between the abundance of our blessings and the inadequacy of our response.

We should never forget that the natural abundance that surrounds us is only one of the blessings that has attended our development as a people.  The culture of liberty that formed us, a unique blend of deep faith in God, deep love of liberty, and a respect for a diversity and plurality of faiths, is perhaps the greatest blessing we enjoy.  Without deep faith that is widely spread among the population, no people can long be virtuous and patriotic enough to survive the storms of world history and maintain a democratic republican government.  But too often deep faith is tinged with bigotry and intolerance.  In much of history, in Europe and elsewhere, faith leads to persecution, heresy-hunting, religious violence and theocracy.

In American history, as in only a handful of countries around the world, we see something else: religious faith that embraces liberty, believes that respecting the conscience of others is God’s will, and is open to the future and to change while remaining deeply rooted in the past and in eternal and unchanging truths.

That culture, more than our fertile topsoil and the mineral and energy riches of the land that we live in, has made us strong and rich and free.  Cultivating the culture of liberty, passing it on to our children, and sharing it with the new immigrants and arrivals who are enriching us as a people by their hard work, their talents and their love of a land that has given them new hope is how we can maintain and hand on the great blessings we have received.

This day of Thanksgiving has its part in that culture of liberty and over the generations the celebration of this day in which we give thanks to the Author of our freedom and the Source of our prosperity is one of the ways in which new waves of immigrants have become of our national family.  As immigrant families begin to make Thanksgiving celebrations part of their family rituals, they make their families part of a nation. Thanksgiving isn’t just a day on which Americans celebrate their past; it is a celebration that helps to build our future.

Americans have celebrated Thanksgivings in hard times before.  In wars and depressions we have remembered our blessings even as we hoped and prayed for better times to come.  And the better times do come.  Ten years ago we gave thanks even as the smoke from the World Trade Center still hung over New York; seventy years ago our grandparents and great grandparents gave thanks under the shadow of a terrible war that was even then reaching out to engulf them.  Eighty years ago they gave thanks in the depths of the Depression.

Through it all, the culture of liberty, the wealth of our homeland and the blessings of providence sustained us.  They sustain us still.  This home of ours remains uniquely blessed, uniquely rich, uniquely free.  Today we celebrate and renew those blessings from one end of the country to the other, conscious that the God who planted us here continues to enrich and bless us beyond anything we deserve.

Happy Thanksgiving to Via Meadia readers.

show comments
  • Luke Lea

    @ WRM – “The culture of liberty that formed us, a unique blend of deep faith in God, deep love of liberty, and a respect for a diversity and plurality of faiths, is perhaps the greatest blessing we enjoy.” So true. Which reminds me, why didn’t you mention the Protestant faith the other day on Blogginheads.tv when you explaining the roots of American popular support for Israel?

    You talk as good as you write btw. Hope you appear there again.

  • Luke Lea

    In right-wing circles people are sometimes asked, “Are you proud to be Americans?” My answer would be, “No, but I am grateful.” Like you said, it is more than we deserve. I thank my ancestors for that, and for the faith they had which made it all possible.

  • Anthony

    “This day of Thanksgiving has its part in that culture of liberty and over the generations the celebration of this day in which we give thanks to the Author of our freedom and the Source of our prosperity is one of the ways in which new waves of immigrants have become of our national family. As immigrant families begin to make Thanksgiving celebrations part of their family rituals, they make their families part of a nation. Thanksgiving isn’t just a day on which Americans celebrate their past; it is a celebration that helps to build our future.”

    WRM, on this day of thanks the above, for me, says it all (as the blessings of providence sustain us). Happy Thanksgiving to All.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Mankind is now evolving Culturally, thousands of times faster than we ever have genetically, and American Culture is on Mankind’s bleeding edge of that evolution. Inferior cultures look at American Culture and say our success is due to our resources, our location, and luck. But, they are lying to themselves rather than face the poor choices and decisions their own cultures have made.
    I firmly believe that had American Culture developed along the Amazon, or the Horn of Africa, or Siberia, it would be just as successful there as it has been here. It’s not resources (Japan), or good neighbors (Great Britain), that make a people or a nation successful, rather it’s their Culture which defines what their future holds.
    So on this Thanksgiving Day, it’s our bleeding edge American Culture that I am thankful for.

  • Corlyss

    I’m thankful for all that America is and does, even her mistakes. No nation on earth self-corrects like America, thanks to those knobbly little Tocquevillian knots of citizens who form and reform themselves into effective political action to do what they think is right. God bless ‘em all. Long may we wave.

  • http://knownofold.blogspot.com J R Yankovic

    Ditto for me re Mr Lea’s comments @ #4. I couldn’t have put it better myself, and as usual I didn’t.

    Along (I believe) much the same lines, there is this ONE THING, in the matter of individual vs national ethics, that I’ve never understood:

    If it’s true that a Christian disciple only achieves mastery – only succeeds in becoming ALL he was created to be – by becoming a servant to all, and by “esteeming others better than himself,” why should that be any less true of a country? And in particular a great country? When did the very pride and arrogance that have been always meant death and despair for the individual soul somehow suddenly, magically (in 1776?) become life and hope for a nation? I know we’ve come a LONG way (baby) since Valley Forge, but it seems hardly the sort of path of which General Washington would have approved.

    Anyhow, a most blessed and happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones, Professor Mead. And thanks for some warm, wise words on behalf of all the reasons we Americans have for being both thankful AND hopeful. They’re needed today perhaps more than ever.

  • http://knownofold.blogspot.com J R Yankovic

    Sorry, once again asleep at the wheel. What I MEANT to say in the first line of post #6 was “Ditto for me re Mr Lea’s comments @ #2.”

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2014 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service