Anyone capable of thanksgiving is capable of salvation and eternal joy.
Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann (1921 – 1983)
To be thankful, you need to know who or what to thank. Your life is better than it otherwise would have been through the blessings of Providence or your good fortune in being born here instead of a less benevolent country. We call a person who is never grateful an ingrate. Grateful people and ingrates have different views of our country. The balance of the two will determine our nation’s future.
Appreciative people accept the good offered without demanding perfection or imposing an arbitrary requirement on how the benefit is provided. They may even understand there was a gift they did not recognize.
An example is the meal blessing in the 1965 movie Shenandoah. Jimmy Stewart starred as the father. He notes he had cleared the land, plowed the acreage, planted the seeds, tended the crop, and harvested it. His wife had prepared the meal. Even so, he assumes God somehow helped or protected the food, so he thanked Him for it anyhow.
Appreciative Americans understand the gift they have living in America. They know the difference in lifestyle and relative freedom. They see the country is remarkably generous and works to correct its faults. Winston Churchill said America does what is right after she tries everything else. Our nation consists of human beings, and that creates problems. But our record is far better than most. To reapply Churchill, we believe she is the worst country in history, except for all the other countries.
Two kinds of people are never grateful. The first is the person whose standards can never be met. They have a version of arrogance. We have all known these people in our lives. No meal, room, car, performance, or anything else is good enough for them. They can find the fault in a Stradivarius. These people see no need to appreciate a deity whose creation can never meet their standards. The world would be a better place if God would step aside and let them run things.
When it comes to politics and nations, no actual government can satisfy them. They live in the theoretical or utopian. Only a version of socialism or communism led by them can be the answer. A hypothetical world has no way to reveal its problems and disappoint them.
The other type of ingrate continually violates the tenth commandment. They live in a constant pool of envy and covetousness. If you have something they don’t, you didn’t earn it. We are not just talking about the pauper and the prince. If someone has a bike or a pair of shoes, they are to be resented or robbed. The envious live in a world of resentment and hatred. In politics, they are the target of politicians who promise to punish the rich and tear down Capitalism.
When Donald Trump chose “Make America Great Again” as his campaign slogan, he divided the country between those who are grateful for the USA and those who are not. I will note that some people joined the anti-Trump crusade to be with the fashionable in-crowd. These joiners do not fully fit the pattern of an ingrate.
The support for Trump among Evangelicals and other religious groups has surprised and confused many so-called analysts. That support is based on their shared appreciation and gratitude for America and his support for judges who will uphold religious freedom.
Trump has made support for Americans of all kinds his top priority. His supporters understand that he is helping blue-collar workers no matter the skin color next to the collar. They have long since disregarded what they know to be a propaganda campaign from the media’s arrogant leaders.
Trump says, “America will never be a socialist country.” I hope he is right, but I am not sure.
In theory, socialism appeals to both types of discontent. The envious want to be given “according to their need.” The idea that competition will end, and everyone will have the same is appealing. The arrogant know they, unlike all their predecessors, can be perfect leaders.
Americans have no problem turning to actual experts, but they reject incompetent egomaniacs. Thomas Sowell calls them the (self) Anointed. They think they can do better than anyone else has done, is doing, or ever will do. When they look for a god, they look in their mirrors.
By voting for Donald Trump, many Americans rejected these leaders, and the Anointed went berserk. All pretense of journalism disappeared. Every rule of justice was ignored. Lies were called truths and vice versa. Social media sites joined the mainstream to ignore, or even block, any story that helped Trump or harmed his opponents. The Associated Press Style Guide changed the usage of the words riot and looting to minimize their impact.
When a virus from China hit, unbelievable and unending lockdowns were imposed. I keep hoping the Chief Justice will support the Bill of Rights instead of the New York Times’s goals, but he always disappoints. Even the right to worship, the bare minimum of religious freedom, is restricted in a way that would warm Stalin’s heart.
The Anointed will do whatever it takes to stay in power. Trump increased his vote count in 2020, yet Biden apparently has the ballots to win the election. Law firms are threatened to force attorneys to withdraw from helping the President litigate the matter.
The New York Times’ blatant lie, the 1619 Project, is being taught to school children. They will believe there is no reason to appreciate our country and no Providence to thank. Ingrates seem to control essential media outlets, one major party, and a good deal of the other. It remains to be seen if the grateful can withstand the pressure and find, or restore, the champion needed to prevent the ingrates’ apparent march to socialism.