A Philosopher's Blog

Thanksgiving

Posted in Ethics, Running by Michael LaBossiere on November 26, 2009
Thanksgiving Day
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Since I am related to John Howland, who came over on the Mayflower, I see Thanksgiving as something of a personal holiday. Of course, since I am also related to some of the native people who once owned these lands, I also take it personally in that way as well.

Some folks might be inclined to see the holiday as somewhat hypocritical given how the Europeans ended up dealing with the natives. While I can see the appeal in this and we should not forget the past, I think that the holiday has evolved into something that can be quite meaningful.

On the most surface level, it is about family and friends gathering to share fellowship and food. This is, obviously enough, a good thing. On a deeper level, it is a day we set aside to give thanks for all that we have and to, if we are kind, think about others. For me the most important part of my Thanksgiving is when I bring my donations to the local Turkey Trot race. Two of my friends, Brian and Judy, collect clothing and other items every year for the homeless shelter. I am thankful that I have enough that I can help those who have so much less. While in a better world everyone would have enough, it is right for those of us with more to show our appreciation by helping those who have less. To me, that is what Thanksgiving is really about: gratitude and generosity. Oh, and running.

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12 Responses

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  1. PhilK said, on November 26, 2009 at 9:44 am

    I don’t feel any obligation toward those less fortunate. I didn’t make them that way. If I want to give them some of my old clothes or a used Cartier watch or a buck or two that’s my choice. I come from a long line of Lays and Maddoffs and my conscience tells me I should decide where my money comes from or goes to. The government should keep its nose out of the social welfare business. The money the government takes from me is mine not theirs . I can live with that and I can sleep soundly with that. Happy thanksgiving

    • magus71 said, on November 26, 2009 at 11:59 am

      PhilK,

      Seems it’s not just the government giving money to those who need that bothes you, but giving anything at all to thos in need:

      “I don’t feel any obligation toward those less fortunate.”

      Ayn Rand may appreciate that, but thank goodness Americans–despite a heavy tax burden–are the most generous people in the world.

      God bless America and happy Thanksgiving.

      • PhilK said, on November 27, 2009 at 12:44 am

        No, I give enough, but not out of a sense of obligation to anyone. And like every other American I consider myself basically good at heart. If government would keep its paws out of my pocket I’d give lots more to charities of my choice. Don’t tell me we really need Social Security and Medicare to keep the old folks and survivors and disabled alive.A country without government giveaways was good enough for our founding fathers.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 27, 2009 at 1:34 pm

      At one point or another we are all among the less fortunate. After all, we come into the world helpless and utterly dependent. As such, our survival depends upon the good will of others until we can fend on our own. Even then, we also depend on others and the kindness of strangers. While it is possible to consistently reject any obligation to others, this would require accepting that no one has any obligation to you. Easy to say, of course…but hard to accept in practice.

      The government’s main function is social welfare-the good of the people. Defense, police, and so on are all welfare programs.

      • PhilK said, on November 27, 2009 at 6:27 pm

        If it’s so simple, why do so many find it so difficult to find justification for social spending and social programs in the constitution? Why do we see it as creeping socialism? Many of us, and I’m including Supreme Court justices, legislators, constitutional experts would argue that “promote the general welfare” just doesn’t cut it as an argument. On the other hand, some see it as a perfectly good argument.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 28, 2009 at 1:29 pm

          It comes down to what we take to be the “general welfare.” It is essentially a scope problem. Those who are true conservatives/libertarians will see it as very limited (defense and police functions primarily). Those who are more to the left will tend to expand it to include infrastructure (roads, power, communication, etc.) and social goods (education, social security, etc.). Of course, in practice, most people take it to be “what I want.”

      • kernunos said, on November 30, 2009 at 3:22 am

        “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”- Benjamin Franklin

        I’m sure the Founding Fathers’ hod our welfare system in mind for ‘..the good of the people.”

      • kernunos said, on November 30, 2009 at 3:25 am

        “At one point or another we are all among the less fortunate. After all, we come into the world helpless and utterly dependent. As such, our survival depends upon the good will of others until we can fend on our own.”

        Funny how the Left uses such an argument for our cyclopean welfare system to help mostly capable workers but not for the helpless fetus to be aborted.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 30, 2009 at 3:19 pm

          Well, then that would be morally inconsistent of them-assuming they are following this principle.

  2. T. J. Babson said, on November 26, 2009 at 10:46 am

    No man is an island, PhilK.

  3. PhilK said, on November 26, 2009 at 11:15 am

    That don’t equate with America’s individualistic streak.

  4. T. J. Babson said, on November 26, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Being a “rugged individual” is not inconsistent with taking care of those who are less fortunate.


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