Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Day - 2011

If calendars weren't so infallible, and I didn't smell the turkey roasting in the oven, I wouldn't believe it is already Thanksgiving.

But it is. And long-time readers know that I always – well, almost always – try to offer some special thoughts on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and New Year's.

Most every day of the year, including often weekend days, here at the Free State Foundation we're focused on espousing free market, property rights, and rule of the law principles. And in order for our work to be impactful, oftentimes we're focused on the nitty-gritty of thinking hard about how to translate those broad principles into sound policy recommendations that enhance the nation's welfare.

There aren't too many days that go by that I don't think, at least for a moment, about how fortunate I am to live in a country where I have the freedom to do what we do at FSF – advocate fundamental principles in which we believe. Too many people around the globe still lack this basic freedom.

So, I am thankful for this First Amendment freedom I have, and I am thankful for our Constitution that guarantees it.

And I am thankful for the opportunity to play a part in the ongoing American experiment in democratic republicanism (note the lower case) that has provided the American people with so much bounty and continuing promise.

Nevertheless, it would be foolish on this Thanksgiving, while rightly giving thanks for America's bounty and its promise, to ignore the serious challenges confronting our country in the months ahead. I especially have in mind today the severe fiscal straits in which we find ourselves, with an ever-rising $15 trillion national debt, the result of years of profligate overspending.

It is not the time today to ascribe blame or to push policy proposals. Instead, I want to share one of my favorite poems. There is something in the simplicity of it, and its simple meaning, that comports with the Thanksgiving spirit. And which does so in a way that makes us think anew about how one person extending a hand to another can make our communities and our nation stronger.

The Bridge Builder


Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim, near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide --
Why build this bridge at the eventide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

So, best wishes from those of us at the Free State Foundation for a Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels. And may the bridges you build be many and strong.