It has to be admitted that this system works well for middle- and upper-income Americans who can take advantage of tax deductions and arts subsidies but functions less well for lower-income groups. That's why our universities, hospitals, and art museums are among the world's finest, while healthcare and preschool education for poor Americans are below European standards. Here, still, is a challenge to the American spirit we celebrate as we give thanks for our blessings.
Thomas Wolfe put what America is all about well: "So then, to every man his chance . . . his shining, golden opportunity . . . to live, to work, to be himself, and to become whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make him—this, seeker, is the promise of America."
This is the very promise that binds into one society so many races, languages, and national cultures. The vision of what we might become enables us to endure the injustices and inequalities of American society today. We do not feel embedded in the past or trapped by the present. We feel we have a future, not for the purpose of glorifying the state but rather to realize our private ends in peace and freedom.
So to all of our readers, at this time of celebration of family and community, I say, "Happy Thank-you-giving." We can all sing, "America! America! God shed his grace on thee."