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Giving thanks for our wonderful world

  • Sunday, November 24, 2013

We are truly blessed with the world where we live. From tiny beginnings at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, Jamestown, Virginia and an even earlier ­— though unsuccessful — colonization effort by the Spanish in 1526 at Winyah Bay near Georgetown, America has grown to 50 states, more than 300 million people and the most free society in the world.

The Pilgrims who survived the first harsh winter and harvest with the invaluable help of friendly Indians invited them to the first Thanksgiving feast.

Although in today’s world many people and businesses place a major emphasis on “Black Friday” sales, plenty of others take the time for a family meal — not always turkey and dressing — but share good food, family and friendship. There’s also time to thank God for the blessings he has bestowed on us as a people.

Many years ago a graduate student from South Africa shared a story with his classmates at the University of South Carolina College of Journalism about a trip he and his wife made over the Christmas holidays.

They drove about 3,000 miles across the United States, from Columbia, South Carolina to California. On their return to Gamecock Country they took a different route, but again covered 3,000 miles.

For that trip, he said, they only saw a few police officers and they were simply watching out for speeders on the highways. They used the same language, currency, observed the same laws and were universally met with open friendliness.

At that time, he noted, if he had driven 6,000 miles north through Africa he would have gone through 30 or 40 countries on three continents, ending up in Austria or Hungary. He would have had to go through police or military checkpoints at every border, encountered perhaps 60 languages, 20 or 30 systems of currency, had to convert his money and pay bribes in many places despite a valid passport, and would have encountered war, civil war, insurrections and rebellions in many of the countries.

You Americans simply don’t realize how good you have it, he told his fellow journalism students.

And he’s right.

In Washington and inside the “Beltway” members of Congress and the administration have been unable to reach agreements on a budget, spending levels, healthcare, entitlements and many other issues.

But one of the points made by the South African student was that in America we are free to discuss, debate and even criticize the government without fear of being jailed or shot because we have different opinions.

Even the poor among us are able to eat so well that being overweight is a problem.

We are Methodist, Episcopal, Baptist, AME, Catholic, Jewish, Islamists, Mormons and so many other faiths. We are free to worship as we please, or to be agnostic or even atheist. We are black, white, yellow and red.

We are a blessed people. And for these blessings, many of us will give thanks to God on Thursday before we enjoy our Thanksgiving meal.

Blessings.

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