For a variety of reasons, modern America is both incredibly blessed and yet utterly frantic. We’ve lost something along the way to our material prosperity. I do believe what we face now is spiritual poverty.
In contrast to Christmas, Thanksgiving is a time largely free of consumerism. While some of the Big Box retailers attempt to invade the day with their sales and giveaways, it seems that most of America is holding the line to protect a day of thanks and humility.
Not everyone has family with whom to share the day. Others have family, but it has unfortunately broken down, leaving members wounded and suspicious of each other. If you are such a person, I do hope you have friends or a significant other with whom to spend the time. Perhaps you can look to this day as the starting point for something new, something good, a moment to begin doing what wasn't done for you.
We are all wounded in some way, it is impossible to get through a fallen, imperfect world without some damage to your soul. But that does not mean we should be cynical or hostile to others. Sure, there are some who are toxic, but there are many others with whom we can share fellowship.
We live in a time of transition, as I have written elsewhere, our leaders have failed us, their ethos has proved wanting and the people are anxious. As we watch one powerful man fall after another due to severe transgressions, we should seriously consider the kind of men and women we wish to fill the void.
There will always be leaders and, even, something of an aristocracy – even in a democracy. It is just the natural way of things. We can futilely fight against it or we can embrace the natural order of man and, instead, demand of our leaders strong character and virtuous action.
But are we capable yet of such a demand? Do we know the character traits that we need in our leaders? Do we live them ourselves? Or have we been cut off from our civilizational heritage? Have the traditions and principles of the past, the very ones that gave us great and humble leaders been forgotten?
So, are they lost forever? No. Through study and quiet contemplation, we can relearn the truths of the past, we can claim our civilizational heritage. The renewal begins with you.
And Thanksgiving is a good day to begin doing so. In a culture so animated by people wanting, taking, and consuming, Thanksgiving stands alone. It is a time of humility, a time to remember all those who toiled and struggled to secure the blessings we have, a time to maybe even acknowledge the hand of Providence as President Washington proposed.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
On behalf of the staff and board of Intellectual Takeout, I wish you the very best Thanksgiving! Grab hold of it and embrace the opportunity to give thanks and to be with loved ones. Have a wonderful day!
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Devin is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Charlemagne Institute, which operates Intellectual Takeout, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and the Alcuin Internship. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College where he studied history and political science. Prior to co-founding Charlemagne Institute, he served as the Director of Development at the Center of the American Experiment, a state-based think tank in Minnesota.
Devin is a contributor to local and national newspapers, a frequent guest on a variety of talk shows, such as Minneapolis' KTLK and NPR's Talk of the Nation, and regularly shares culture and education insights presenting to civic groups, schools, and other organizations. In 2011, he was named a Young Leader by the American Swiss Foundation.
Devin and his wife have been married for eighteen years and have six children. When he's not working, Devin enjoys time with family while also relaxing through reading, horticulture, home projects, and skiing and snowboarding.