A Thanksgiving for All Mankind - Lindsay Perigo
A Thanksgiving for All Mankind * *Lindsay Perigo * *
November 27, 2008: American Thanksgiving Day *
I want to join our American friends in giving thanks to their Pilgrim Fathers, and more importantly, their *Founding* Fathers, for creating the greatest country on earth, Western Civilization's highest achievement: the United States of America. While Thanksgiving, to the extent that contemporary Airhead America has any awareness of its history at all, is primarily associated with the pilgrims, it is to the *patriots* that thanks are primarily due.
The former were religionists seeking refuge from other religionists; while they espoused freedom *of* religion they cared little for freedom *from*religion, and their superstitious bigotry infects American public life to this day, an ever-present menace to the constitutional separation of church and state.
Knowing that much more than the price of tea was at stake, and what the price of freedom could be, the Founding Fathers and all their fellow-patriots risked life and limb in the name of values their oppressors claimed as their own, but were honoring, routinely at that time, in the breach rather than the observance. The gallant band of brothers who rebelled against the "injuries and usurpations" of their British oppressors changed the face of history. They made it glow and smile and radiate eternal youth and hope.
It's fitting on such an occasion to extend a broader salute to the best of humanity across the globe who epitomize the explosive flowering of reason and freedom spawned by the Founding Fathers' crowning achievement, that incomparable document, *The Declaration of Independence*. For me personally this means a hymn of unstinting praise to the following, among others:
1) The scientists and physicians who have so enhanced the quality and longevity of human life. They have unlocked nature's secrets and unashamedly exploited them for human edification. They have understood that "nature, to be commanded must be obeyed"; they have understood equally that nature, to be obeyed, must be commanded. In our day they include the computer "geeks" who have enabled us to transmit words and images across the globe in a second. The enrichment they have brought to human life is incalculable. I think of them and paraphrase the words of the hymn: *Oh mighty Man, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works thine hands have made *...
2) In that most spiritual of aspectsâ€”*music*â€”of that most spiritual of realmsâ€”*art*â€”the composers and performers who have brought unclouded exaltation, the most intense of value-swoons, to human beings worthy of the name. In my case I single out Rachmaninoff and Puccini and other Romantic composers whose soaring symphonies and concerti and operas sweep all before them. I single out Mario Lanza, of whom it has been said if there were a god, this would be his voice; I single out his recordings of *Strange Harmony of Contrasts* and *The Stars Were Brightly Shining* from *Tosca*, where he rumbles those very stars himself. I single out Fritz Wunderlich and Anna Moffo and Maria Callas and so many others.
3) The philosophers who have asked the most fundamental questions known to man and advanced the quest for truth. They have wrestled with life's purpose, and with each other, sometimes so boisterously they have lost their bearings and fallen out of the ring. Gratitude of unbounded enormity is owed to Ayn Rand who showed them *all* where they had made wrong moves. Gratitude is also owed to her unsung American predecessor, Robert Green Ingersoll, who, while not a professional philosopher, held the torch of reason aloft while professional philosophers were fumbling with it and dropping it.
4) NEM everywhere: New Enlightenment Men (including women!); those for whom their very lives are a work of art, who combine innocence with playfulness, intellect with passion, spirituality with physicality; the Objectivists who do not forget that reason and morality are not their highest purpose but tools for the *achievement* of their highest purpose, their own personal happiness; SOLOists who take a stand against the religionist travesty of our philosophy that says we live in order to be moral rather than the other way round.
5) The warriors who risked, and in millions of cases, lost their lives in freedom's cause; in particular, *the men and women of the United States military.* As the barbarian curtain now descends on America itself, their glory will shine only more brightly, and their day will come again. "For that which they died to save can never perish. Through all the darkness, through all the shame of which men are capable, the spirit of man will remain alive on this earth. It may sleep, but it will awaken. It may wear chains, but it will break through. And man will go on." (Ayn Rand, *Anthem* .)
Such people throughout history have transformed religion's self-fulfilling prophecy of life as a vale of tears into rational, radiant thinking's projection of life as a mountain of achievement and joy. The Founding Fathers were among their greatest exemplars. Let us be thankful for them, and all like them who have flourished in their after-glow, on this day.