Save the world. Eat a vegan!

Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.
-- From "The Desolate Wilderness", one of two classic Wall Street Journal opinion columns that has been printed every year at Thanksgiving since 1961 
This is indeed a big country, a rich country, in a way no array of figures can measure and so in a way past belief of those who have not seen it. Even those who journey through its Northeastern complex, into the Southern lands, across the central plains and to its Western slopes can only glimpse a measure of the bounty of America. 
And a traveler cannot but be struck on his journey by the thought that this country, one day, can be even greater. America, though many know it not, is one of the great underdeveloped countries of the world; what it reaches for exceeds by far what it has grasped. 
So the visitor returns thankful for much of what he has seen, and, in spite of everything, an optimist about what his country might be. Yet the visitor, if he is to make an honest report, must also note the air of unease that hangs everywhere.
-- From "And the Fair Land", the second of the two columns 
There are two holidays that are quite unique to this country, beyond all others, that mark it as a special place to be. Both are opportunities to express gratitude for the things that the people of this land can enjoy, thanks to the sacrifices and hard work that they and others have put forth.

The first of these is Memorial Day, a sombre day of reflection and remembrance for those who gave their all for their people, their country, and the Almighty.

The second is Thanksgiving, a day that is in many ways the polar opposite- a day to spend with friends and family, surrounded by ridiculously awesome amounts of food, eating till one's stomach nearly bursts, in good cheer and with far too much alcohol on hand.

These holidays show two sides of the same coin of the American spirit, and any man who comes to this country and fails to appreciate that spirit will never understand the remarkable people that built it.

Yet Thanksgiving is, of course, far more than a gloriously fun excuse to indulge well past the point of sense. It is also an opportunity to give thanks to our fellows, and to our Creator, for everything we have been given. And, as it is said, to whom much is given, from whom much is expected.

I am, as ever, thankful for my family. My parents and I remain very close, despite the fact that I left home more than 12 years ago and have been pretty much on my own ever since. My sister and I disagree on many, many things, especially when it comes to politics and feminism, but she is my little sister nonetheless, and I love her very much.

I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given as rewards (or maybe punishment- take your pick) for my hard work at my place of employment. Last year, I was unable to celebrate Thanksgiving properly, given that I was in London at the time for a five-month secondment. Yet, it was a tremendous opportunity; I learned an enormous amount, made some great connections, and was able to make great strides in my career.

I am most grateful for my health and the rewards reaped through the years of hard work in the gym, and on the sparring mat. I am stronger, fitter, leaner, and healthier now than I was when I was 18; as I once noted with amusement to my mother, if I'd had the same body back then that I do now, high school would have been vastly more fun. (Her response: "well yes, but then you wouldn't have gotten any studying done." She does have a point.)

I am thankful, beyond words, to the American people, for letting me come here, live and work and be among them. I came to this country to get an education, which I did- but it turned out to have been far deeper, and richer, than I could ever have expected. I never thought I'd stay here as long as I have; and I certainly never expected to absorb the American ideals of liberty, hard work, sacrifice, and independence as thoroughly as I did. I may mock the American people endlessly, but it is the gentle mockery of a friend who wants only the best for this remarkable land and its people.

I am thankful to you, the readers and commenters who frequent this place. Writing is a time-consuming, often frustrating, always rewarding experience. I do not write for anyone but myself, but I am honoured by the fact that others find what I write to be of worth, and I am grateful for your presence here. Keep commenting and emailing, for you keep me honest and motivated.

Above all, I am thankful to my Lord and Creator. My faith was deepened and strengthened this year by certain adverse events, and in the process I was brought closer to the Almighty, to understanding the purpose of faith, and to realising that it is the Christian conception of the Lord that makes by far the most sense.

It says something about the times in which we live that thanking the Lord at the dinner table is falling out of fashion. That was certainly the case at the last Thanksgiving dinner I spent with my aunt's family two years back; out of like 20 people present, I was the only one who thanked God for all that He has given us. (Admittedly, I was the only conservative-minded person present; everyone else was either a SWPL or Asian liberal, so you do the maths.)

I don't say this because I am in any way a particularly nice or religious or decent person- because I am none of these things- but because I find it astonishing that a people once filled with faith and love of the Lord have so completely turned away from Him.

Yet the Lord is indeed merciful, generous, and filled with paternal good humour; all you have to do to see this, is to open your eyes.

Let me also say something about the world we find ourselves facing today.

My friends, there is no question that darkness is upon us. A Time of Testing is coming; in some ways it is already here. As a certain hymn once put it, our Earthly rulers falter; our people drift and die; the walls of gold entomb us; the swords of scorn divide. Evil stalks the land, making its way into our homes with bitter and malicious lies coated in sweet words. Every institution that we look to in order to preserve our way of life has been infiltrated- up to and including the Holy Mother Church herself. The coffers of our nations are empty; the crushing burdens of our parents' debts break the backs of our grandchildren's great-grandchildren. The unshakable moral compass of the Word is under attack to a degree never seen before, on all sides, even by those supposedly charged with defending it.

Any righteous man who believes in what we might call "traditional" values would certainly be excused for feeling despair at the awful desolation he sees before us, at the rot and decay of our culture, at the execration and abuse heaped upon those who struggle to live moral and decent lives amid the wreckage.

And yet, my friends, there is also cause for rejoicing.

For this, too, shall pass. This evil, too, will break. And it will be up to us- you, me, and all others like us- to rediscover what was lost. Whether you believe in the Lord's will or not, there is no denying that we have been given an opportunity, unlike any other, to do what our forebears could not: to rebuild civilisation from the ruins when, not if, the decadence and stupidity of the current orgy of madness finally collapses in upon itself.

What greater gift could there be than this? What more could be asked of a free man, that he use his freedom to set others free as well?

So, this Thanksgiving, give thanks indeed, for all that you have, and for all that is to come. The road lies before us; "we few, we happy, we band of brothers", let us travel it together.

May God bless you and yours on this day. And always, always, may God bless America.



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