Tomorrow, those of us who live in America reflect on our good fortune in a world ravaged by hunger and pain. There is so much to be thankful for in America. Yes, I know the economy is in dire distress. Yes, I know millions of Americans are out of work, that whole industries are teetering on the edge of collapse, that millions are ill and many are dying, that society is in flux and that war rages on in Iraq and Afghanistan. But…
But isn’t it lucky that the Bush Presidency is coming to an end? Think of the disaster America – and the world – would face if George W. Bush had another year or two in office. And aren’t we fortunate that Barack Obama was elected and not John McCain? What would McCain have done to steer the country away from the edge of an economic abyss? From his campaign rhetoric, I gather he wanted to lower taxes and “freeze” government spending. His running mate, Sarah Palin, even promised that he would “balance the budget” by the end of his first term. Think about that for a moment. And look up Herbert Hoover in your history book. That was Hoover’s answer to recession, too, and it was the final shove that sent America hurtling into the Great Depression.
By the grace of God, we have Obama – calm, assured, ready to take the bold action that is necessary to avert disaster, assembling the most competent team possible despite the criticism he knew he would invite from those on the left, who hoped for some kind of “liberal” revolution, and from those on the right, who cringe at the thought of government intervention and deficit budgets.
Two months before he is to be sworn in, Obama already is having a reassuring effect on Wall Street, and on the people of America. To the misinformed people who expected him to be an exotic radical with wild ideas and dangerous affiliations, Obama’s sober demeanor and cautious cabinet choices should be a great comfort. No, he is not planning to “soak the rich.” He may leave the Bush tax cuts in place for a while. No, he is not going to order hasty and ill-advised troop withdrawals from Iraq. He is reportedly leaving Bush’s Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, in his post for the next year or so while he plans a safe and orderly disengagement. And no, he is not being disrespectful of the current President; he has resisted reporters’ attempts to “draw his tongue” (as we used to say in Jamaica). In these dangerous times, he is not about to rock the boat.
Americans should be thankful, too, for a Democratic Congress that had the heart to legislate extended unemployment benefits. The vast majority of those millions laid off during the Bush presidency will have food on the table this Thanksgiving. And, thankfully, the new Congress will be bolstered with enough “liberals” to assure a rational health care system, world-class education, expanded public works, development of clean energy, and the other initiatives essential to Obama’s vision of economic and social revitalization.
As we gather around the dinner table tomorrow, let us be thankful for these mercies. Let us also say a prayer for people around the world who have no food, who are beset by violence and famine and despair… And let us pray most fervently for those who seem to have no hope… Pray for the rape victims in the Congo, the mutilated children in Darfur, the desperately struggling population of Zimbabwe…
Around the world, people are suffering. And around the world, people are looking to America to pull itself up by its bootstraps and then to extend a helping hand to them. Can Obama and his team achieve this incredibly difficult goal? Yes they can! As the President-elect said in his press conference today, “Help is on the way.”