A post by TFS brought this to mind. Being the man that he is, his emphasis is almost entirely on the religious aspects of Thanksgiving as primary. He links to another like-minded person who gives a quotation from Frenchman De Tocqueville.
The religion which declares that all are equal in the sight of God, will not refuse to acknowledge that all citizens are equal in the eye of the law. Religion is the companion of liberty in all its battles and all it conflicts; the cradle of its infancy and the divine source of its claims.
As one might expect, there should be (as I see it at least) one huge lot more than that for America to be thankful for.
It is horrendously out of context, I know, but no more so that the original quote and quite likely the translation as well. Not being a French-speaking scholar of De Tocqueville I am not going to take it any further than that.
First up, as I pointed out to TFS, that passage was written in the mid-1800’s, 1851 if Wiki is to be believed. At that time “citizen’s rights” were defined in a manner that would today rank beside the likes of Iran, 1950’s South Africa, and China.
To be clear, I am including under the heading of “citizen’s rights” such forgotten things as –
The right to vote.
The right to own property.
The right to unrestricted travel.
Those rights were not universal in the US in the 1850’s. I have to concede that the right to vote was not universal in NZ until 1869.
That being the case, the thought led me to think what would I be thankful for if a similar religious festival were in place in NZ.
First I think would have to be for the blessing (look it up in the Oxford TF, I am not going religious yet. It means “something to be thankful for…”) of having been born in this country, for its freedom, its bounty and beauty.
Immediately after that would come the people who have fought to make it, and keep it, that way. The likes of Hobson, Williams, Hone Hika, Te Whiti, as the foundation stones, followed by Kate Shepheard, Apirana Ngata, and even Richard Seddon and Michael Joseph Savage would be worth a passing thought. The servicemen and women of the six wars fought overseas – Boer, WW1, WW2, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam.
It is there that the difference would lie. I doubt that many of those listed would consider themselves “divinely inspired” apart from Williams who was a Minister and Missionary. For the rest, I suspect that much of what they achieved would fall into the “95% perspiration” category.
So it is likely that if I were in America now, I would be thanking a whole bunch of people for their work and sacrifice in building what America is today and striving to keep and better all that is good in that nation.