Happy Bird-day to you… Happy Bird-day to you….. Happy Bird-day dear, reader, happy Bird-day to you. Now blow out the flaming turkey… (that’s going to make it a little dry.)
Today is the day when America gives itself the bird. You know, Turkey, Butterball, Oven Fowl… And why? To celebrate abundance but also to offer thanks for the blessing of NOT having to track the thing through the frozen woods and hunt down this feathered feast and bring it back to the homestead alive and pecking. Instead, we just go down to the market. While there, we simply grab an ear of corn from the neatly stacked display, rather than fertilizing and tiling the field months before. Then we head to the desert aisle to grab a pumpkin pie that we didn’t bake from a pumpkin we didn’t grow.
In a way, this might make you feel a little guilty, but that’s not the point of today’s Thanksgiving blog. The point is that we have it really good. But consider for a moment, how much of a pilgrim’s everyday life was consumed by maintaining a food supply? How much “downtime” could they have possibly enjoyed when they had maybe 6 months of productive time by which to generate enough food to be able to LIVE through the other six? Compare that to how long the average American spends in the supermarket today.
But the moral of this story is: all of this almost didn’t happen! American that is. This country was nearly wiped out in its infancy. The first generation of American’s was almost the last. Why? Human behavior. And that leads to the character study part of this author’s blog.
The first form of government of the Plymouth Colony (the beginning of the United States of America) was outlined in the Mayflower Compact. It was the kind of document that intellectuals dream up… and dream about. In theory, it was a plan for Utopia, where everyone in this new land would share in everything. It was envisioned as the antidote to the unfair, uneven distribution of goods and wealth in bad, old Europe. In the New World everyone would share in everything, everyone held one share of the colony. The thinking was that this equality of wealth would render poverty, famine, injustice and class divisions, a thing of the old, discriminatory, European system’s past. These ills of society would be eliminated from the human condition by the simple, HUMANE, act of sharing.
Well, a lot of people died. In fact, everyone almost died. You see, it didn’t take long before those humans who didn’t work, or didn’t work as hard as others, realized they still got the same share of everything. And those humans that tilled the fields and broke their backs making everything started resenting the fact that they got the exact same share as the takers. Eventually, the “makers” started envying the “takers” and they quickly caught on and figured they’d slow down and still get their share too. “Utopian Paralysis” ensued and production practically ground to a halt. This forced Governor William Bradford, of the now starving, Plymouth Colony, to throw out the Compact and declare, in rough terms, the free market system. Like magic, those who were takers suddenly didn’t have anything to eat, so guess what? They became makers. And the rest, as they say, is history. Human history. Or in this case, history in spite of humans or their human behavioral defaults.
In short, the open market way back then is the reason we can go down to the market when it’s open today and buy, in a couple of minutes, a full Thanksgiving dinner – because way back when, we gave Utopia the bird!