Thanksgiving – to who?

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and as usual we all have many things to be thankful for.  After all that’s what the coming holiday is all about.  But, in light of the current legislative terrors plaguing our society regarding President Obama’s deceptive scheme to steal vast portions of average people’s wealth and redistribute it to those who’ve yet to earn their way, and considering that every day is a struggle to continue compliance with the existing hundreds of thousands of laws and regulations in order to stay out of the Prison Industrial Complex, I have a suggestion.  I think people ought to think carefully about what they’re thankful for, but most importantly – who provided those things for them. 

We did, as individuals, provide for ourselves our current circumstances.  We live in the realm of our own consequences for our own decisions and actions and inaction.   If you’re thankful for your freedom, be thankful for your own choices that have allowed you to remain out of jail and in good enough company that you are able to resist the temptation to deviate from social norms. If you’re thankful that you live in America and that America boasts one of the highest standards of living, thank yourself for recognizing it and not searching elsewhere for greener pastures.  

Too often, people give it up.  Every holiday season I hear people handing over credit for their successes and accolades to their gods and governments. I’ve even heard people say that they’re thankful for being born in America, which is a nice sentiment, but this is an entirely lucky event which cannot be logically credited to anyone without giving credit to everyone throughout all of history. 

So thank yourself. If you did well in school, be grateful for having the courage to persevere.  If you landed a good job or kept one, be deeply appreciative of your own hard work and level headed decision making skills that made that possible.  If you bought a new car or made any life-changing purchase, be grateful for saving enough of your hard earned money to do so, or for having the backbone to set priorities and goals and follow them through while navigating the financial and legal processes.  If you have a wonderful spouse, be thankful that you have chosen to be attractive to that person (of course you’ll want to keep this thought on the DL).

People are amazing. Everyday, people triumph over distractions from their priorities, attempts by the government to steal their money and/or imprison them. Everyday, people work hard, remember their goals and strive for better situations for themselves and their families.  So this year, when you’re making that toast, or saying that grace, throw a line in there that comes straight from the heart without leaving the heart behind. Throw a line in their thanking yourself for being amazing.  Have a moment of silence even, to think about some of the adversities you’ve faced, some of the lost battles you’ve bounced back from, and some of the accomplishments you’ve achieved over the last year or so.  You are an incredible individual, and you deserve some recognition.  Good job!

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4 thoughts on “Thanksgiving – to who?

    audreycamp said:
    November 26, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Wow. Well, first, thank you for spilling your optimism about the average individual human all over the interwebs.

    As I read through these initial posts, I found an interesting pattern. You’re writing to a certain subset of people, and that subset holds close to a rubric set by your own life experience and personality. On Thanksgiving morning, you’ll be patting yourself on the back for choosing a job which pays you enough money to be able to buy a new home. And you’ll be praising yourself in the mirror for taking care of your own health. And you’ll be looking at your brainy, beautiful wife and thinking, “It’s a good thing I’ve actively made myself funny and handsome and successful enough that she wants to be with me.” All across America, there may well be similar people giving themselves similar affirmations, but the grave weakness of this fallacy is in its incompleteness.

    Allow me to apply what I’m talking about to my own life first. There are plenty of good things in my life which are here in spite of me or my choices. For example:

    It will never cease to amaze me that I have the choice not to have children. Until the 1960s, married women either had kids until their bodies gave out, or they stonewalled their own husbands to reduce the odds of conception. Worldwide, women had only one dependable option to limit their family size: abstinence. A close second was abortion, which was illegal and, therefore, not widely available or safe when it could be obtained. The invention of the birth control pill and the legislative victories which made it legal are two things I can take ZERO credit for, but which affect me every day of my privileged life.

    I am also thankful for the existence of extraordinary people who do good things for the world and spend their lives selflessly in service to their fellow man. Malala Yousafzai is one. Nelson Mandela is another. I am thankful for public defenders, inner-city teachers, first responders. I am thankful for my friend Jeremy, who pulled an unconscious woman from her burning vehicle and dragged her to safety. And for victims’ rights advocates. And for people who pay for the coffee of the person behind them in line at Starbucks. And for whoever gave the homeless man on my street a new blanket and shoes last week. These people are empowered and making their own choices, and what they do has no direct effect on me whatsoever, but I am grateful to them. Humbled by them. Hopeful that there will always be people like that, because—on my worst days—I might need one of them, and—on my best days—I might be one of them.

    You are dying to believe you earned all the good stuff in your life. But you didn’t. Some of it comes from the people around you who cared for you and believed in you through the thick and the thin of your twenty-seven years on this planet. Some of it is just dumb luck. The latter is why I so often find myself thinking, There but for the…

    You say: “I’ve even heard people say that they’re thankful for being born in America, which is a nice sentiment, but this is an entirely lucky event which cannot be logically credited to anyone without giving credit to everyone throughout all of history.”

    There’s nothing wrong with being thankful for chance, for those times when the chips fall your way even if they don’t have to. A majority of the global population have precisely none of the things you listed which you find worth being thankful for. This majority is lucky if they eat today. Lucky if they aren’t raped in front of their children by enemy soldiers. Lucky if they aren’t infected with HIV from the moment they’re born. Lucky if they ever learn to spell anything beyond their own names. And in countries like the DRC or India or Colombia or Iran or China, this rarely has anything to do with a person’s individual choices. You and I are not in the majority. Easy lives full of good choices and the wealth reaped thereafter are rare.

    To discount the necessity of luck in our current situations is to blame everyone else who is less lucky for their illness, illiteracy, dogmatism, prejudice, high infant mortality rates, hunger, and inaccurate history books.

    (Well, that’s the way the cookie crumbled. Better luck next time, Haitians! )

    I think it’s admirable that you take the time to think about your circumstances and how you arrived there, that you take the time to develop a comprehensive life philosophy to stand as the foundation for your approach to the daily grind. But make no mistake, you are writing to people like you. Preaching to the proverbial choir.

    People who could, if required, pay for the tolls on privately-constructed and monitored roads in order to reach a grocery store or a friend’s house or a hospital. But what about those who couldn’t? What you describe is no utopia. It’s just survival of the fittest. Underlying everything you have written here—behind the bootstrapping, back-slapping Manifest Destiny-ness of your belief in individual responsibility and empowerment—is a selfishness which could and would scuttle society at large because it sacrifices compassion.

    If you follow your ideas about personal responsibility and need-based trade and a supply-and-demand-style approach to infrastructure to their logical conclusion, there WILL be people who can’t hack it. People who, due to illness or disability or even laziness, can’t grow their own food or work in service to earn money to use for food. Who can’t take care of themselves, and don’t have anyone else there to care for them.

    Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

    And in such a society, no one is immune. Remember: A single disease diagnosis or a single debilitating accident can render irrelevant every good “choice” you’ve ever made.

    Striving for independence is a good thing. Making sound, reasoned choices with an eye on the future and your personal priorities is a good thing. And it’s nice to know that you have such a high self-esteem. I simply urge you to be wary of the tunnel vision which can develop around these ambitious and your proposed self-congratulatory cycle. For every one of you (or me), born in a time and place which allows for every other choice we’ve made since then, there are ten thousand less lucky. And the converse of taking credit is taking blame.

      pcoast responded:
      November 26, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      …and then the expatriated Norwegian takes a break from working at home, and, flaunting her pious arrogance, shames the concept of self-appreciation, and attacks me with assumptions about my “easy” life. Calling a logical statement a fallacy and then fallaciously appealing to fear and compassion in your counterargument is so far below the threshold of legitimacy it’s difficult to take you seriously. Perhaps you leaned, and mooched and leached your way to where you are today (I don’t know), but I certainly didn’t. I’ve gone well out of my way to take as few handouts as possible. I choose to work, hold my job, save my income, spend on which items I decide, invest where my research takes me, cooperate in my relationship, etc, etc, etc. And, everybody else in this world does the same. Indeed, I will be giving myself a couple of pats on the back this year. Your argument that others are responsible for my situation and that I owe them thanks is asinine; this ideology stems from a philosophy of blame.

      It’s really great that somebody bought someone else a Starbucks, but the Guatemalan coffee farmer is still living an abysmal life of indentured servitude. In the real world every transaction has a loser. Even really great negotiations wind up with one side getting less than what they want. Liberalism is a lie, and it’s sold to its victims as compassion. Liberalism consists of some extremely wealthy people telling those less fortunate than them: not only should things be fair and equal for everyone, they can be. This is an extraordinary falsehood.

      To put it simply, life is a competition between one’s self and their environment; either you survive or you don’t. It is NOT anyone’s responsibility to produce goods for anyone other than them self and their family. Even if a liberal stomps their feet and cries and shouts their mantra, “It isn’t fair”, it’s still NOT any person’s responsibility to provide labor for anyone else. To suggest otherwise is to champion slavery. And, before you go falsely accusing me of using a fallacy again (as usual, I might add), keep in mind that forcing people to work is enslavement. Therefore, the only non-slavery aspect of the liberal agenda is that those who don’t want to work don’t have to and still get to enjoy the fruits of everyone else’s labor.

      A person who wins the lottery and still has the money a year later has shown great discipline. Yes, they got lucky, but they made good choices, didn’t give it away to bullshit-charities and distant relatives and friends, etc. People who do nice things for their fellow man should feel good too. But, when I give money to homeless people, they have an opportunity to make choices; I don’t feel good or bad about it. I do it for them, and then I go on about my business without much thought on the matter.

      As for how the world would look in a free society, I can only speculate on the subject (just like you). Workhouses and prisons probably would continue to exist for some time, but I bet the free market would find a more productive way around it, or at least stop imprisoning people for victimless crimes. And, to be clear, a victimless crime is an action taken by an individual by choice which does not harm anyone other than that individual, but hurts others’ feelings and is, therefore, used as an excuse to kidnap and imprison them. Anyway, my point is that your statement implies we would duplicate atrocious existing control-systems in a free society. Obviously you chose not to see my point that those systems are immoral and must, therefore, be ended.

      You’re a brilliant writer, but you’re lost in liberalism, and unfortunately the war of soft language waged against liberty is your forté. I’ll leave you with a final provocative thought, a wedge in your ideology: When a man with a gun tells you that he’ll kill you if you don’t give him a portion of the products of your labor, and that it’s for your own good, that person is a thief and a terrorist. When he later justifies his actions by appealing to your compassion by saying that you must not care about the needy and poor if you don’t comply, that man is a manipulative con artist. When a person hears these things and believes them, that person is being foolish. And, lastly, when that new believer spreads those lies, that person becomes a fool.

    Audrey Camp said:
    December 9, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Once again, nobody is holding a gun to your head and demanding “a portion of the products of your labor.” You might be tossed in prison for avoiding taxes while earning a wage and living in a tax-revenue-fueled society, but no one is going to kill you for them.

    And I’ll tell you what, even lost in my liberalism I will commit to this right now: The minute YOU stop accepting the benefits society offers which are funded by tax revenue, I will agree with your complaints about stolen tax dollars. Seriously. Go off the grid tomorrow and support yourself, and I will champion your right not to pay the government anything.

    But that won’t happen because, like it or not, you were raised on the milk of the government sow, too. You were educated in a public school and then again by the military. You received housing stipends and medical benefits. No need to repeat the list of government teats at which you’ve suckled in your short life. You heard me the first time and ignored it.

    Only a paranoid person would suspect his sister of being a con artist when she combs through his personality and arguments for some shred of compassion. And only a mean-hearted person would call that same sister a fool for believing compassion is more important than greed.

    I will now post this comment and return to my easy life in Norway. One which you, apparently, disdain though you have no real knowledge of it. And that’s too bad. I had hoped you would want to visit us over here sometime. But taking the time to explore the world and learn about other cultures and classes requires a couple of important traits of character: humility and compassion. And currently, you’re staunchly refusing to embrace either.

      pcoast responded:
      December 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      Although, you’ve certainly challenged yourself on a regular basis throughout your life, I have no doubt that your experience has been a walk in the park relative to the majority. This isn’t bad or good, it’s just a gauge of the point from which your perspectives are cast.

      Your original post was chalked full of implicit digs at my credibility and writing style. At one point you even made a statement claiming that I write to “a certain subset of people” and went on to describe my readers in a negative light while drawing parallels between my own outlooks and theirs. Not only is this claim absolute speculation in regards to its assertions about my readers – it’s about the most rash attack you could make, since it doesn’t hold any truer for my writing than anyone else’s. Indeed, everyone writes to “a certain subset of people”, you clown! Ha ha ha. And, by the way, I wasn’t implying that you were a con-artist; you were the fool at the end – the one who chooses not to look at reality, and who, as a result, has nothing to spread but lies. It’s not exactly your fault, but you choose to dig in your heels. Lastly, on this point, your compassion is not the issue, nor is greed on my part. That sort of simple fallacy finds its way into your writing much of the time as you are usually speaking from an unrealistic stance and supporting positions that only survive with the aid of fallacious speech. It’s okay for your own writing, but don’t use them when arguing against my points, because I grow tired of watching you peahen around my blog attempting to fan a tail you don’t have; and I don’t feel like defending my points against such ill-mannered attacks. I usually don’t come right out and name-call, but it seems your sensitivities are overflowing from your fingertips, and you came out swinging on that last comment (so take that! and that! and some of this!).

      I’m well aware of the relationship between my current circumstances and the government; pointing them out in an attempt to slur my credibility is absurd. I’ve addressed this many times before, but here’s a short version of my ex post facto justification for living my current lifestyle: When forced, under the threat of violence, to play a game, it would be unfair to blame the player for following the rules. Also, keep in mind that I wasn’t always able to see through the walls of government bullshit; even religion had me going for a while there. But in the end rationality tends to find a way through. It’s the people like you, who lack the ability to keep their heels up when deliberating who end up staring at walls for life. I was already under contract when the fog began to lift for me, and the negative consequences I’d endure are hardly worth the benefits of escaping this lifestyle only to be cast into a liberal-headed state as a civilian. And, it seems fairly imbalanced to hold against me that I was forced into public education as a child; suckling from that government-titty wasn’t an option – yaddamean?!!

      Now to address the last portions of your sorry list of false-challenges, I think I’m an extraordinarily compassionate person. Moreover, I think most of the people I know would agree. And while this is conjecture in its truest form, since I’ve never asked people whether they find me compassionate, so is your statement that I am not. I suppose what you meant to say was that: in your opinion, at that moment, based on my stance that people should be appreciative of themselves as well as others on Thanksgiving, you felt that I was being less than compassionate…, and to this I say, “Well, okay,” with furrowed brow.

      In the military, I’ve found that nearly everyone outranks me everywhere I go. Because of this, I’m humbled regularly. Everywhere I go someone else is in charge and I am to know my place and be there to do what I’m told. Few things could be more humbling that being a conscious cog this small in a wheel this large. Alas, I think I’ve embraced the suck that is humility more than most. To say that I lack humility is revealing of the fact that we’ve spent approximately five hours in the same room with one another in the last seven years, or thereabouts.

      And finally, disdain? Absolutely not! I find that attacks of this nature are largely reflective of the attacker; perhaps your disdain for my views has led you to project this emotion onto me. The article I wrote was about making the most of a situation and striving to accomplish goals, and appreciating yourself when you make it. You could have become a spoiled, pompous, bratty girl slacking off at work and counting on your parents or husband to support you, but instead you educated yourself, worked efficiently, networked within communities you found valuable, and made the decisions that landed you in an exotic part of world. You even did your research and chose the one exotic part of that region that has natural resources to artificially prop up its economy while the rest of its socialist neighbors dwindle. You ought to be very much happy with yourself, indeed, as I am for you. Go ahead. Pick up that hand of yours, throw it over your shoulder and flop it around a couple times. You deserve it! I admire your courage and decisiveness which you displayed fluently as you left your home town, home state, and country all at one fell swoop. Appreciate yourself.

      Perhaps there was a miscommunication in my original article that triggered this unfortunate volley, I’m not quite sure. Regardless, you might read it sometime with a bit less contempt for my views; it was a particularly positive article.

      Yodel le he ho,
      Pcoast

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