Thanksgiving, by The Book

A shorter version of this went out through Indiana Policy Review this past week…

 

Given its place in American history, it’s embarrassing how we’ve perverted our Thanksgiving Day. Most Americans nurture a vague fiction involving buckled shoes and blunderbusses, in which Pilgrims and Native Americans joined in a sort of agricultural group-hug. Others, with just enough facts to be dangerous and a hard Democratic Party bias, claim that The Mayflower Compact created a successful government that we’d now call “communist.”

More correct, but still oversimplified into the GOP counterargument, is that this communism was so disastrous that the few survivors were forced into free market economics, which became The American Way (i.e., all that is just and wholesome).
William Bradford’s own words have been used to support this. In his first-hand account, “Of Plymouth Plantation,” Bradford detailed their commune’s declining initiative, morality and crop yield, then summed up the failure of communism as:

“…the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; and that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.” (emphasis added for reason that follows)

It’s fine to say that what we now call “communism,” or its authoritarian cousin, “socialism,” is both ancient, and proven unworkable. But Thanksgiving was never about sound economics, filled bellies or kumbaya fellowship. The Thanksgiving of 1621 was neither America’s first; nor the beginning of our national November holiday.

Our national Thanksgiving Day holiday was established in the midst of our civil war as a penitent prayer and statement of political deference…to God. Lincoln’s proclamation, written by Secretary of State William Seward, acknowledged the surprising strength of the nation in the midst of war, and the unexpected foreign neutrality at the depths of our weakness, and said, “They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

Seward wrote the proclamation because just a few days before, Lincoln himself was not a Christian. “But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.”

Congress made the holiday permanent in the hot midst of WWII; perhaps the last US assembly with anything like, in the words of Seward, “…humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.”

Where are the politicians today who’d acknowledge their sin and turn praise away from their works and toward the Almighty? These days, even Christians erect a wall between their faith and their government; though the Bible deals very harshly with that Golden Calf we call politics.
Despite the modern, shallow interpretation of, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s,” the whole Bible says that everything belongs to God, including Caesar. That’s what made Christ’s reply to the Pharisees so piercing.
Psalm 33:12’s, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,” has an unfortunate corollary – Cursed is the nation whose god is politics.
Christians should have learned this already; if not from our Bibles, then from American history. And if not from our history, then from current events.
Have we forgotten that faith in the Republican’s “Contract with America” was followed by more unfounded faith in the Democrat’s “Hope and Change?” Now we’ve switched tribes and shamans again for the “Pledge to America;” but nothing has changed. We certainly don’t Pledge our Allegiance to God… Our national religion is still all about robbing Peter to pay Paul, where we pray to lawyers, lobbyists and politicians in a never-ending hope to be Paul, while somebody else, for at least a while, must be Peter.

This Thanksgiving why not choose a way of life that is simple, Biblical, constitutional and proven to work? Such a way exists, it’s already the law, and it could be yours for the asking…if you know Who to ask.

After all, politics is a junkyard dog, not an angel. “In God We Trust” means that In Politics We Must Never Trust. And Thanksgiving Day means, in the words of Seward, to “…fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation.”

Amen to that.

 

2011 IPR Winter Journal

http://www.pageturnpro.com/Indiana-Policy-Review-Foundation/20430-Winter-2011/index.html#1

Deckchairs on the Titanic

In years past I’ve had personal reasons to dislike what happens on Election Day. But today my name wasn’t on any ballot and I’m more disgusted than ever. Why?

Well, because, in spite of all the blustery “Tea Party” rhetoric, we did it again. We swapped betwixt McCoy and Hatfield without changing a single thing of consequence.

The bankster/moneychangers who control both entrenched parties are still in charge. The impending constitutional amendment proves that we still have no idea what constitutions are for or what they say. Party leaders are still safely ensconced, and the ungoverned monster we call “government” is still all about robbing Peter to pay Paul; where lawyers, lobbyists, politicians and soldiers determine who must be Peter, and who, for a while anyway, gets to be Paul.

If I see a bright spot in our march into parched oblivion, it comes down to one question that, more often than ever, I’ve been asked in earnest: “What is a Libertarian?”

To me that’s easy. There are just two principles:

1. Only you are payable for your own actions. Nobody else gets credit, money or blame for your work, your plans, your mistakes, or your crimes.

2. Nonviolence. The only tolerable use of force is against force initiated directly against you.

Following these two principles to their natural conclusions would lead to all sorts of wonderful things. But so what?

All the preceding about political parties and labels amounts to allegiance to abstractions, or more accurately, idolatry.

It’s harmless to treat the San Francisco/New York Giants as some living thing that spans new owners, new players and new home states. It’s just a game. But where liberty and justice versus oppression, slavery, genocide and war is concerned, we should be wary and sober.

Despite the horse race rhetoric, politics is no game, and there are no winners. The end of nations is as certain as the end of our mortal lives. And the end almost always comes by making government an idol. Political party loyalty is, to my eyes, a body-painted tribal war dance around this idol. Some do enjoy the spectacle, the strategies and the apparent glamour; but it’s ultimately a major cause of large scale violence, needless suffering, theft and death.

It’s not harmless sport that we tax people out of homes to pay for homeless programs, destroy businesses to “stimulate the economy,” or wage endless, innumerable wars for peace.

I cannot believe we humans don’t share a vision for a better life than the taxation, litigation, regulation and war that always creates enemies and unjust winners. I can only conclude that we don’t promote or even talk about this shared vision because we don’t believe it’s possible to achieve. Perhaps the numbing realities we’ve created for ourselves make us believe that there’s no point in dreaming of better…even when we could simply vote for it.

Perhaps nobody alive has any memory of how American life worked when only churches and voluntary associations like Kiwanis and Scouts comprised the departments of health, education and welfare. Maybe we can’t imagine the actual process of looking out for our neighbors or caring for our own elderly because that involves something other than money. Perhaps some of us concentrate on foreign charities because that seems easier and safer than dealing with what you can see on your way to work. Maybe we so muddle the benefits of modern technology with the handicap of modern politics that we think that resurrecting constitutional Rule of Law means the surrender of flushing toilets.

Whatever the case, I wish we’d put down the tribal flags, cross the chasm between politics and reality, and talk plainly with each other about how we want to live our too-short lives.

Instead of “Tea Party” saber rattling, how about we calmly stroll toward la dolce vita, “the sweet life;” in which peace, prosperity, liberty and justice for all doesn’t mean ganging up on poor Peter?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.