Gimme, Gimme… vs. Thanksgiving

You don’t have to go far to hear Americans express their frustrations these days.  I have heard people say: our current system is “unfair”, corporations are “greedy”, that college loans are an unreasonable burden and should be “forgiven” (Oh how I wish mine where 😆 ), that a  job is a “right”, that we’re “entitled” to free health care.  To me , its not not unlike hearing children demand something they want, telling their parents, a sibling or a playmate: “Gimme”!

I’d love to condemn those who use those words.  But I would have to condemn myself too.  I sometimes fall into the trap, thinking: “this is unfair, I DESERVE better“.   To be sure, the entitlement mentality is nothing new but what is new is how often it is expressed in public and how little our public discourse is colored with words of thanks and appreciation – not only for what we have but with a recognition that we often don’t deserve much of what we have been given.

Thanksgiving is a great reminder for us to reject the “I deserve” mentality.  I think we can find some clues in reading the history of Thanksgiving and the mentality of those who gave it to us.  Learning from them what motivated them to celebrate it and and adopting some of their perspectives on why we ought to be thankful in the first place.  It may be key to ridding ourselves of the “entitlement” mentality we carry around.

In 1863, during the Civil war (a time when many might not of  felt all that thankful), President Abraham Lincoln  made Thanksgiving into a National Holiday.  As part of his proclamation he said: “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.  They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.  It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people.”

President George Washington began the Thanksgiving proclamation tradition, based on Plymouths 53 surviving colonist celebration of their first successful harvest in 1621.  It would be followed by several other presidents.  Washington started the practice in October 1789.  He wrote, “Whereas 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 favor…Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation”

President John Adams wrote a thanksgiving proclaimed in 1798: “As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him… I recommend that on the said day the duties of humiliation and prayer be accompanied by fervent thanksgiving to the Bestower of Every Good Gift”

What do you think?

A good list of historical proclamations, including Thanksgivings, can be found here:

http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?cat=HD

1.  Am I wrong?  Do you think people are just as thankful now as in our countries past?

2.  Does the increase in secularism account for the change in our “entitlement” mentality?

3.  How will do your express thanks daily?

 

My friend Clark had a good Thanksgiving practice.  It can be found here:

http://www.familytrek.org/the-thankful-list-a-thanksgiving-tradition/

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Gimme, Gimme… vs. Thanksgiving

  1. Josh-
    I think your right about our current culture being less thankful then previous generations. I love your what you said at then end “We live and eat like Kings of the past.” – thats a great illustration!
    Noah

  2. 1. Continued.

    My generation has never had to fight for anything. We are given so much whether it be federal grants that we don’t have to pay back to go to school or a car from our parents right when we turn 16. We don’t see these things as gifts but as things that we “deserve”.

    We are at a time in history that, if I chose to, I wouldn’t have to work at all and yet would still be provided above and beyond my basic necesities for survival. Whether that be through government institutions our the average person coming out of a Mcdonalds who feels sorry for me because Im sitting on a corner with a sign that says, “hungry”.

    2. I had to look up the word secularism. : )
    I do feel that this plays a role in our “entitlement” mentality. Whenever you stray from biblical mandates and instructions, there are always consequences and this may be one of them. To be honest, I still am a little fuzy on the correct definition of the word.

    I put the blame on the breaking down of the family. From personal experience, I just feel parents are not teaching their kids the values and disclipines that are needed to run a healthy society. 95% of kids these days, including me, are all spoiled. Like I said before, we don’t have to work for anything. So why would it be any different when we go out into the real world? I never had to pay my parents back for the car they gave me, so why should I have to pay back the government for my college? I deserved getting an education just as much as I deserved that car.

    I think the real question is, what has happened to that family that the parents are no longer teaching there kids this. This is putting a lot of blame on the parents but I don’t think its right to blame our society or government. Our Society is a result of how the family runs, not the other way around.

    And maybe this is due do the rise in secularism within the family. Parents have stopped taking advice on how to raise their children from the bible and started to take it from Phychiatrists.

    I have also wondered why it wasn’t hammered into me as a kid in sunday school to Obey your PARENTS!!!! Lets stop spending every sunday on Jesus’s Love for us and start spending some time on our responsibilities as children.

    3. I am trying more and more to express my thanks daily. As Bill Mills so wonderfully put it, every breath is a gift from God. So just to meditate on His sovereignty through out my day and realize that every situation I am in, whether it be a fun one, awkard, saddening, convicting, tempting, whether I am eating or driving or going to the bathroom, is a gift from our merciful God. All this He is working out for His good.

    Blessed be the Lord God, The god of israel, Who only does wonderous things!
    -Psalms 72:18

  3. Hey Noah.

    Those were some great quotes from our founding fathers. It awesome to be able to read those quotes and get a picture of the heart and passion they had for God. Very inspiring and convicting on why I don’t write like that.

    Your friends tradition is really cool. If the Lord blesses me with a family of my own, I will definitly do something like that.

    1. I do feel that we as a country are less thankful. I feel a major reason for this is due to our reaction of all the blessings that have come from this nations past. Here in America, we are never “in need” of anything material. We live and eat like Kings of the past.

  4. Thanks for your post Noah, and for sharing the link to mine. I agree with you that it is so easy to fall into a gimme mentality. We need to continually re-set ourselves. The battle against self is never won. It must be fought continually.

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