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Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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Three on Thanksgiving, One on Black Friday

I am taking a break from blogging over the week of Thanksgiving. I expect to be back here on the 29th or 30th. Happy Thanksgiving!

1. It is always worth it to consider the true meaning of the holiday, which I think Ayn Rand very well described in the early 1970's:
Image by Elisa Stone, via Unsplash, license.
Thanksgiving is a typically American holiday. In spite of its religious form (giving thanks to God for a good harvest), its essential, secular meaning is a celebration of successful production. It is a producers' holiday. The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production. Abundance is (or was and ought to be) America's pride -- just as it is the pride of American parents that their children need never know starvation. [bold added]
It is interesting to note the role of the Pilgrims in establishing the holiday: It is quite different than you were probably taught, as John Stossel once explained in a column titled, "Thanks, Private Property!".

2. Another writer, Debi Ghate, elaborated on Rand's explanation in part as follows:
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to recognize what we are truly grateful for, to appreciate and celebrate the fruits of our labor: our wealth, health, relationships and material things -- all the values we most selfishly cherish. We should thank researchers who have made certain cancers beatable, gourmet chefs at our favorite restaurants, authors whose books made us rethink our lives, financiers who developed revolutionary investment strategies and entrepreneurs who created fabulous online stores. We should thank ourselves and those individuals who make our lives more comfortable and enjoyable -- those who help us live the much-coveted American dream. [bold added]
Thanking oneself will likely -- due to the altruistic, sacrifice-worshipping elements of our culture -- seem a strange idea to almost anyone. But this should be the norm, and the idea that one is not entitled to enjoy one's own life and the fruits of one's own efforts is what should seem bizarre.

Thanksgiving is not just an excellent time to celebrate success, but it is also an opportunity to remember this fact, and to regain our bearings, if necessary.

3. Writing for the Ayn Rand Institute a few years ago, Elan Journo writes of the Thanksgiving scene in Atlas Shrugged:
The only person no one thanks is the one person who made all of it possible. It was Rearden's productive effort that paid for their home and the lavish spread. It is his money, earned through honest production and trade, that not merely keeps them all from starving, but affords them luxuries of which no panhandler could even dream. It is his sweat, his mind, his drive, the countless hours of his life dedicated to his work -- on which all of their lives depend -- that go unrewarded and unacknowledged. [bold added]
That scene strikes me as a fine retort to Charles Dickens's feast scene in A Christmas Carol, throughout which he farcically (at least to anyone who can keep context) and unjustly damns capitalism through caricature.

4. And finally, although I happily allow my wife to ... celebrate it for me ... as it were, we have Black Friday. Jaana Woiceshyn once wrote a piece showing that actual holidays are far from the only symbolic targets of those who would have us feel guilt for the "sin" of being alive.

Yes, there are people who protest Black Friday:
The reason for the sit-ins and blockades? The anti-capitalist and environmental activists staging the protests accuse Amazon as the symbolic culprit that pushes "consumerism," the definition of which has shifted to an invalid packaging of "high level of consumption" with a negative evaluation of it as "frivolous" and "selfish." The activists disdain high level of consumption of material products because they believe it contributes to planet-destroying climate change. [bold added]
I do not wish to end on a sour note. Let's acknowledge that our values are under attack, but let's also take that as a reminder of how precious, and worth celebrating they are.

-- CAV

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