A Historical Perspective on Thanksgiving
History is a fine teacher, especially as it relates to our need to be thankful. It is easy to view our world and complain. Many long for a return to “the good ole days.” Yes, there is tremendous difficulty in the world. We shouldn’t minimize that. This world will never be our home. Nevertheless, life in the 21st century is far better than life in previous centuries.
I recently read an article entitled, “Americans in 2016 Richer Than Rockefeller in 1916.” As the title suggests, this article compares what life is like for the average American in 2016 with what life is like for the world’s richest man (John D. Rockefeller) in 1916. The conclusion the author comes to is this: we have it way better than Rockefeller did. Far better to live as a middle class American in a world with antibiotics, then be the world’s richest man yet not have this form of medication. This point is illustrated with the tragic story of the death of President Calvin Coolidge’s sixteen-year-old son. In 1924, while playing tennis with his brother on the grounds of the White House, Calvin Coolidge, Jr. developed a blister on one of his toes. A staph infection resulted from the blister, which ultimately led to sepsis. Without antibiotics, the boy died within a week. I’d much rather be an average Joe and have my boys with me, than serve as the President and lose a son. I’m sure you feel the same way.
We are truly blessed by God to live in the 21st century. Yes, our world is messed up, but we must not forget to thank God for the multitude of blessings all around us. We forget that the basic comforts of life—air conditioning, air travel, vaccines, the internet—are novel technologies. We must remember that the vast majority of humanity have not enjoyed what we so easily take for granted. Therefore, don’t complain. Instead, give God thanks for His abundance blessings—antibiotics included.