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Jewish World Review Nov. 21, 2003 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Tom Purcell

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Thanksgiving, updated for our times | Thanksgiving used to be a day to thank the Creator for America's blessings, but we've gotten away from that. So let me take a stab at remembering some of the many reasons we have to be thankful.

Thank you, G-d, for letting us win life's lottery. Throughout history, people have fought valiantly for freedom, opportunity, the ability to chase their dreams. Lots of people are still fighting for these basic rights. All we had to do was be born here.

Thanks for NOT placing us in so many other countries. I can't imagine living in Afghanistan when the Taliban was in charge. Those boys made music illegal, kept girls out of school and made men wear beards. I don't look good in a beard, G-d. It grows in thick and red and I look like Kris Kringle, and that's no way to go through life.

Thanks for the American justice system. In a lot of countries you're guilty any time the government thinks you are. Here, we'd rather 10 OJ's go free than one innocent fellow be sent to prison. Sure, I know some worry about the Patriot Act, and we SHOULD worry about the balance between individual rights and government power, but look how reasonably we're treating the D.C. snipers. We're spending millions to ensure they get a proper defense, despite the horrors they inflicted on us.

Thanks for moving Madonna to Britain.

And thank you for American productivity. From the outset, American ingenuity and creativity has continually reinvented the way we do things. That's why we've got the largest economy on the planet. Despite the recent downturn, we're recovering and the next run of prosperity will likely put the last one to shame.

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Thanks for our rich heritage. We're a hodgepodge of ideas and influences from most every place on earth, and therein lies our strength. Our mix of so many cultures and ideas has created a uniquely American spirit comprised of optimism, a strong sense of humor and an eagerness to face and resolve challenges, no matter what they are.

Thank you for our incredible bounty. Our many cultural influences has resulted in an incredibly wide choice of tasty dishes. I love them all but am really thankful for hot wings, ribs and thick, juicy steaks. And also for Dr. Atkins, who made it possible for us to eat these delicious treats again. Never did a man make a faster beeline from this earth to the heavens than he surely did.

Thanks for taking Barry Manilow off the charts.

Thank you for our homes. We have the highest home ownership of any country on earth, which gives us a stronger stake in our communities, our governments, our schools. Our civic pride is one of many reasons for our incredible stability, prosperity and success.

I know some worry about the apparent decay of basic values, but there is recent evidence we're doing better than we thought. Look at the thousands of young men and women who volunteered for military service. Despite the pain and suffering they've been through in Afghanistan and Iraq, you hardly ever hear them complain. Even those who have been badly wounded usually say the same thing: that they feel they let their troops down and wish they were back with them.

There have been thousands of heroic acts taking place every day in the battle zones. And when the heroes are given notice and recognition for risking their lives for others, they always say the same thing: that they were just doing their job and don't feel they deserve any special attention.

Goodness gracious, we know America isn't a perfect place and there are a lot of things that need improvement. The fact is there is a perpetual battle between good and evil in every place, and in every soul. A person would have to be a real cynic to not see that good wins out over evil in America more often than most places.

We have a ways to go, G-d, but it's worth thanking you for what is going right. That's what we should celebrate this Thanksgiving.

So thank you!

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11/14/03: Hang in there, tubby America, your day in the sun will come
11/07/03: Morale at Veterans' Day
10/31/03: The Big Picture
10/24/03: A sorry bunch
10/17/03: Conversation with a typical poll respondent?
10/10/03: Men and women and brains
10/03/03: Iraqi Pork
09/26/03: They would not leave
09/19/03: A radical idea
09/12/03: Food Guide Pyramid has a "stupidity factor"?
09/05/03: Flag waving and football cheering
08/29/03: People who have it all, too often don't
08/25/03: Attack of the 'virus twits'
08/08/03: Why not have a whole slew of the world's dignitaries and leaders come by to visit you?
08/01/03: Do you really want to live until 500?
07/18/03: "Ain't-my-fault" lawsuits are becoming more creative
07/18/03: The real story never makes for good summertime drama in Washington
07/11/03: Government bureaucrats, not elected officials, are really the ones determining what people and organizations can and can't do
07/03/03: Overworked Americans
06/27/03: The Metrosexual Male
06/20/03: Crime Etiquette in Washington, D.C.
06/13/03: My Father, the Thief and the MGB
06/05/03: An Open Letter to Bill and Hillary
05/30/03: We are a busy people
05/23/03: Liar, Liar
05/16/03: Laffer all the way to the bank
05/09/03: My mother's house
05/02/03: Teaching the Iraqis how to protest
04/25/03: Iraqi TV
04/21/03: Explaining Democracy to the Iraqis
04/11/03: Major increases to the beer tax? That's a cheap shot right to the beer gut
04/04/03: War humor
03/31/03: Dolphins, PETA and the USA
03/21/03: Traffic Wars
03/14/03: Ronald Reagan's St. Patrick's Day
03/03/03: My Family's Tragic Secret: We're French
02/21/03: I'm worried about my people
02/14/03: George Washington Makeover
02/07/03: Making quiet sacrifices
01/24/03: "Gimme the, goo-goo, gah-gah, remote!"
01/21/03: "Misunderestimated"
01/10/03: Republican night life
01/06/03: Exercise pills
12/31/02: They provide unending joy to those who are wise enough to let them in
12/13/02: Hurried Man Syndrome
12/06/02: In DC, snowstorms have important ramifications --- or, at least, they should
11/26/02: Police advertising
11/15/02: An Interview with Osama
11/01/02: How to vote in America
10/25/02: On edge in Washington, D.C
10/11/02: Giving new meaning to "selling your body"
10/04/02: Bush's Angels
09/27/02: Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow
09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
09/13/02: Bubba is Dubya's man
09/06/02: The Freedom to Picnic
08/16/02: Ah, the $izzle of anti-terrorist pork
08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
07/15/02: Patriot food
06/28/02: Eavesdropping on a San Fran classroom
06/21/02: The crowded skies
06/14/02: Contemporary Father's Day: A conversation for the ages
06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
05/19/02: Advice for prom goers this year: Hold onto your money
05/10/02: Don't take her for granted
05/03/02: Letter to the parents of a tubby teen
04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2002, Tom Purcell