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On being thankful for America at Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, no one living in the United States should be anything but profoundly grateful for the privilege of living in this country. No one.

That’s not necessarily a popular sentiment today. The country is amidst one of its periodic spasms of self-flagellation, amplified by political hucksters and charlatans of right and left (nothing new) and by social media demagogy (something new and ominous). And no doubt there’s a lot to ponder, and repent of, in the American past and present.

But that’s true of every human society and will be until the end of time. What is worth giving thanks for in America — what demands our gratitude and our prayers of thanksgiving — is that the United States has built-in resources of renewal, as it has shown time and time again.

This Thanksgiving, think of the American story as an epic of ever-expanding inclusion: a country of flawed human beings that nonetheless strives, generation after generation, to give real effect to its birth certificate’s assertion that all human beings are created equal. Concretizing that credal affirmation has never been easy. Irish and German immigrants had to fight for inclusion, as, later, did the Italians, Jews, and Slavs. To vindicate human equality against the ancient practice of chattel slavery, Americans fought a civil war that cost three quarters of a million lives. Women were enfranchised by the 19th Amendment, the great civil rights and voting rights acts of 1964 and 1965 were passed, and the physically handicapped afforded easier access to public spaces by federal law. Each of our national achievements in widening the circle of common care and concern involved struggle. But inclusion won, time and again. And the victories helped create a society that few want to leave (including those who constantly decry it) but millions want to join.

Read more at Catholic World Report

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