Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate America's fortunes
Despite adversity and war, we have much to appreciate and cherish.
FOR the fourth year, Americans will mark Thanksgiving with fellow citizens fighting wars in far-off countries. Families who have loved ones dining on turkey and pumpkin pie in mess halls and tents in Baghdad and Kabul will feel the absence keenly and long to raise a cup with them at home.
Even those who don't -- whose sons and daughters, fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters sit with them at the feast -- cannot help but reflect on the extraordinary gift our troops bestow on us today.
Thanksgiving comes on the heels of an election that saw a nation divided along almost every conceivable line, on issues from immigration and abortion to taxes, the economy and the environment. But voters were largely united on one front and that was to seek an honorable way to end the war in Iraq -- and to stop the killing and strife for Iraqis, as well. They also sought a halt to a nasty atmosphere of corruption emanating from the halls of Congress.
Americans did this by going to the voting booth, and therein lies the splendor of this nation.
In spite of all the problems that face the country, we amazingly have found an orderly path to change leadership and direction -- without bloodshed and hostilities. Sure, harsh words and accusations are exchanged, but if venomous language is the worst we can expect, we should count ourselves fortunate.
Still, Americans must guard against allowing lies, misrepresentations and exploitation of personal beliefs to overwhelm rational discussion and the wholeness of our collective. After 9/11, we rediscovered our national unity, but in the ensuing years, we let our differences take on a larger significance, perhaps out of fear and apprehension of the world that had shifted on that terrible day.
This nation has endured because we can find agreement. It can be a slow and rigorous process, but eventually we reach accord on how best to live and let live and to make space for one another with all our variances.
It is diversity that continually strengthens America, that keeps our blood flowing and contributes to our advancement. Quashing the messy conglomeration of ideas and interests would cut off the course of progress.
Thanksgiving is celebrated for myriad reasons -- by some Americans to observe the benevolence of their creator, by others to rejoice in a bounty, if only for one meal. For all, it should be a day to note the remarkable grace and blessings we enjoy.