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November 25, 2009

Count Your Blessings

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” –Thomas Paine

We call the primary gathering place in our home “the warm room” because at its center hearth is a woodstove. This room is where we gather in the evening after the day’s tasks and our family dinner.

This past Sunday night, my family surrounded me in our warm room, each of us doing something that we enjoy. I was reading, my wife was checking e-mail, and my oldest son was bantering with my daughter while their little brother was assembling his latest Lego creation.

It was the first day of Thanksgiving week, but giving thanks was not really on my mind. I was content just to relax with my family after a good meal.

Then my cell phone chimed. I was piqued by the interruption, mostly in anticipation that when that phone rings on a Sunday night, there’s usually something seriously wrong somewhere that requires my attention.

To my pleasant surprise, when I answered, a familiar voice, although faint due to the satellite connection, was on the other end. It was an Air Force friend stationed in Bagram, in the Parwan province of Afghanistan, calling to say hello and provide an update on his status.

Needless to say, he is far away from his family, who will be without him for Thanksgiving and probably Christmas. And yes, his call prompted immediate gratitude on my part for the casual and cozy evening that I was enjoying, with my family, in the comfort of our home.

The next morning, I returned from a meeting to my SUV, parked on a city street, and found in the dust between the Navy Jack on the rear window and the “Support Our Troops” magnet on the bumper, someone had scrawled, “World Peace!” I am quite sure that the author was misguidedly implying some contradiction between pride in our military forces and achievement of world peace.

Undoubtedly, the poor soul who soiled his pinkie to leave that message has never taken an oath to support and defend our Constitution, much less undertaken any action to that end at risk of personal injury or death. Thus, what this anonymous peacenik fails to realize is that nobody wants world peace more than our front-line Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines – the very warriors fighting for that peace.

I am grateful for our uniformed Patriots, who, like my friend in Bagram, are defending liberty in places far away, so that we may live in peace at home, and I am grateful for their families, who bear a great burden with their loved one’s absence.

But, as I contemplate our national day of Thanksgiving, beyond gratitude for my immediate blessings, I am greatly concerned about the trials that we, as a people, now face in the wake of the most recent, and unprecedented assault upon our Constitution. For I am certain that the resulting collectivist government policies, left unchecked, will smother our free market system and our legacy of liberty.

You know the story of our First Thanksgiving, the three-day Pilgrim feast of 1621, after nearly half their company had died during the preceding winter. (I have posted an Account of the First Harvest Feast and Thanksgiving for those of you might like to read it to your families before the Thanksgiving meal.)

What you may not know, however, is that, in an effort to improve production at Plymouth Plantation, a collectivist policy was implemented in 1622 which almost destroyed the remainder of the settlement.

Plymouth Colony’s governor, William Bradford, recorded in his history of the Colony that, to forestall another failed crop season, he would allot each family a plot of land, and mandate that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” must be forfeited to a common storehouse in order that “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.”

In theory, Bradford believed that this would be good for the Colony since each family would receive equal share of produce without regard to their contribution.

Unfortunately, then as now, collectivism works only in theory.

Bradford wrote that his plan failed because it undermined the incentive to produce, noting that it “was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.”

After the abysmal results in 1622, Bradford wrote that the Colony leaders contemplated “how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.”

They then decided to trade their collectivist plan for a free market approach, and in 1623, Bradford wrote, “This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any other means the Governor or any other could use. … Instead of famine now God gave them plenty and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many. … Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.”

As a direct consequence, the Colony celebrated a much greater Day of Thanksgiving in 1623.

The conclusion was obvious. Given liberty and incentive to be industrious, their Colony thrived. Indeed, by 1624, production was so abundant that the Colony exported corn back to England.

And for generations since, to the extent that men have been set at perfect liberty to establish free markets, to produce goods and services without having profits seized for redistribution, our nation has thrived.

Yet once again, our governors are implementing collectivist policies of the sort that failed in 1622 and have failed many times since, giving credence to the aphorism, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

My fellow Patriots, never in the history of our country has there been such an acute, coordinated and vicious assault upon our rights and upon the structures established to protect those rights. From individuals, to state governments, to federal institutions initiated at the dawn of our Constitution, nothing – absolutely nothing – is sacred to the leftists currently controlling our nation’s capital.

But take heart, for as George Washington wrote in the darkest days of our American Revolution, “We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times.”

Of such exertions, Washington wrote, “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 favors.”

So it is that on Thanksgiving Day of this week, we are called upon to pause and take respite; to acknowledge the divine intervention of our Creator in the affairs of this great nation; to recommit ourselves to obeisance of His will; to express our gratitude and give Him all thanks and praise for the bounty which He has bestowed upon us.

We yet live in the land of the free, the home of the brave, that shining city on a hill, and for it, we humbly implore that He protect us and grant us much favor in our coming struggle to re-establish The Rule of Law over the rule of men.

For that and for each of you, fellow Patriots, I am grateful!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

P.S. Like many mission-based organizations, we typically raise most of our budget in the last two months of each year. We still must raise $253,635 before year’s end. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to support The Patriot today by making a secure online donation – however large or small. If you prefer to support us by mail, please use our printable donor form.


(Publisher’s Note: Regarding our Thanksgiving edition, as with our Easter and Christmas editions, we take leave from the rigors of research and analysis of contemporaneous news, policy and opinion in order to focus on an eternal message, indeed a Christian message. To our Patriot readers of faiths other than Christianity, we hope that this edition serves to deepen your understanding of our faith.)

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