Daniel krauthammer lessons from my father awesome angel tattoo designs

Thirty-three years ago, my father published a column that explored the meaning of thanksgiving beyond cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and pigskin. Awesome guy tattoos reading that column, which is featured in his forthcoming posthumous book the point of it all, prompted me to contemplate some of the most important ideas he introduced into my life, which now occupy my heart and my mind this holiday season.

This religion’s supreme being, my father wrote, is jefferson’s rights-giving creator, washington’s first author, lincoln’s judge–an american providence. The only orthodoxy it demands is belief in the core principles laid out in its foundational holy texts: most important, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


And that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

It is important to recognize that we are speaking here about belief. Not proof, but faith. Our founding documents declare these truths to be self-evident. But are they? What exactly is so self-evident about them? One cannot empirically prove that all men are created equal or that the purpose of government is to protect individual rights and human liberty. These are moral and metaphysical assertions that operate on a separate plane from scientific inquiry.

They are self-evident, ultimately, because we believe that they are. Or because we believe in a god–whether biblical or not, literal or metaphorical or perhaps, like jefferson’s or einstein’s god, one and the same with the laws of nature–who decrees that they are. And, ultimately, this is a distinction without a difference. Cool small wrist tattoos either way, what lies at the foundation of the american experiment, our democracy, our very way of life, is an article of faith.

Until the late 20th century, liberal democracy was an exceedingly rare (and usually short-lived) phenomenon. For millennia, it appeared self-evident to most of humanity that the legitimacy of governments flowed from the divine right of kings, or the inherent superiority of a feudal aristocracy, or the enlightened wisdom of a theocratic priesthood.

In the last century, totalitarian ideologies of left and right built regimes whose claims to legitimacy rested on the complete sublimation of individual worth to the deified class or race collective. And still today, authoritarians around the world bolster their support by championing the power of national and ethnic groups above the rights of the citizen.

Democracy is not a natural unifier. It allows–it requires–individuals to choose their own destinies. Democracy, my father wrote, is designed at its core to be spiritually empty, for it mandates means (elections, parliaments, markets) but not ends. Democracy leaves the goals of life entirely up to the individual. Where the totalitarian state decrees life’s purposes. As a result, democracy is at once the most free, most humane, most decent political system ever invented by man, and also the most banal. Awesome tattoo backgrounds dying for it is far more ennobling than living it.

This is the vital role served by america’s civil religion. Its traditions, its ceremonies, its symbols and even its holidays give physical form, emotional weight and devotional object to a set of ideas that could otherwise remain coldly theoretical and inaccessible to the spiritual heart of our human nature. Its practice, my father wrote, was meant to infuse communal life with a religious dimension … . Its purpose was to make of the social contract not merely a convention but a faith.

And what better symbol for communal devotion could there be than the thanksgiving table? It was abraham lincoln who established thanksgiving as an annual national holiday. And it was he, of all our presidents, who most powerfully imbued our politics with a higher spiritual purpose: he urged that to the support of the declaration of independence, so to the support of the constitution and laws, let every american pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor … . Really good tattoo ideas in short, let it become the political religion of the nation.

We give thanks for our country’s natural bounty–but even more, for its moral and philosophical bounty, of which we are history’s lucky inheritors. Our gratitude should prompt us to accept the responsibility for safeguarding it and passing it down to the next generation so that they may continue to enjoy its blessings. I am thankful to my father for passing it down to me.