America the bountiful

As Americans pause quietly to celebrate their national Thanksgiving day, they can be buoyantly conscious of God's great goodness. Indeed the bountless bestowed on America are cause for day-to-day rejoicing: Its representative system of government that makes posible a graceful and peaceful change of leadership. Its manifold freedoms, including the precious right of religious worship. Its embrace of many races, peoples, and cultures and the rich heritage these provide. And, yes, its great material abundance brought forth by a generous land and a creative, spirited, and giving people, so plentiful is America's cup that improverished must be the heart which cannot, in King David's words, "make a joyful noise unto the Lord" and "sing forth the honour of his name."

To say all this is not to ignore today's many stresses and problems, or America's failings. Not all Americans share adequately in their nation's rich promise. This year, especially, many citizens are more aware than ever of a world in which available resources put constraints on their material hopes and aspirations. They are asked to conserve, to save, to pull in their belts. They are warned of dwindling global supplies of energy and other necessities. Despite record grain harvest in the United States, India, and other lands these past few years, agricultural experts now forecast the world is headed for another food crunch in 1981. Americans themselves may never go hungry but, as the major breadbasket of the world, they know their own economy and standard of living are affected by any adverse development in this increasingly interlined world.

Yet, it America's history has taught anything, it is that true abundance does not lie in material wealth itself but in the intelligent, seful ideas that generate that wealth. Surely it is their vast reservoir of ingenuity, their zest for work, their commitment to righteous ideals, that have enabled Americans down through the decades to build an affluent society and to overcome adversity of every kind, whether drought, war, racial strife, poverty, or natural disaster. It is that reservoir of ideas, not of course limited by nationality, which they need to draw on now to deal with rpesent-day challenges.

The signs they are doing so are many. We think of the myriad ways in which Americans are conserving energy and finding their lives not restricted but made more satisfying and efficient. The very concept of waste is being revised. Take, for example, the city of Rocherster, New York, where collected trash that formerly went into landfills is being profitable processed to provide fuel for electricity and to recover aluminum, copper, and other resources.

We think, too, of the steps finally being taken to provide a US emergency food reserve for a needy world. The stockpile of 4 million tons of grain to be held by the government, along with the farmer-held reserves, represents a modest beginning to help keep world supply and demand in balance, but it is a prudent beginning nonetheless.

By such undertakings, on an individual and a collective scale. Americans show there need never be a lack of vision, never a poverty of ideas. Their strength, their well-being, their progress, their satisfactions, rest in using these divinely given spiritual resources for the good of all humankind. It is for this unfailing abundance that they can abundantly give thanks.

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