Check In: I’m conflicted. I want to say something about Thanksgiving that is thought out and not too pithy, but at the same time I have some cooking and cleanup to do, so I’m tempted rather to do something easy. The truly easiest solution would be to find an old post from an old blog and drop it here as a bonus post. But I put it in a special place the location of which I plumb forgot. In the meantime, this is too easily turning into an angry rant, and I’d rather save the ranting for later.
In May this year, my sweetheart taught me about the notion of grace specifically what is given free and unmerited. Typically, this is in reference to something obtained by providence as in by the grace of God. In this case, my sweetheart showed me grace, solving a technological crisis that wasn’t hers to solve but had me in a panic. Sometimes by the grace of our loved ones we stay on our feet.
It is no coincidence that grace and gratitude share some common etymological origins. Gratitude is a thing we learn. Typically our parents try to teach us very early in our lives to make the gestures of gratitude (saying please and thank you under the spirit of manners). It has to be taught. It’s a proper, healthy thing that we bring our children into the world with unconditional love so they need not concern themselves with What shall I eat? or What shall I drink? or Whither shall I be clothed?, typically because they’re still figuring out breathing and pooping and these periodic lapses into unconsciousness.
Taking things for granted isn’t a bad thing. For our own sanity we have to do so every day. I expect my water and power taps to work every day, and it’s a crisis when they don’t. I expect my bank account to sustain a consistent balance except for transactions I authorize. I expect my currency to stay legal tender and not change in value too quickly. I expect my arms and legs to work, that I can move about and engage in productive work (or pleasurable recreation). These are things that I do not question, though having some of them fail from time to time, I do have perspective that sometimes they don’t work. Three months on crutches has given me some great appreciation for my legs.
Gratitude comes from perspective. It comes from knowing that the things we have are not assured. It’s not about what we deserve, or what we should get or have obtained by hard work or good works or righteousness. It’s acknowledgement that what comes to us sometimes doesn’t come to others even though they are equally deserving. And boy are we lucky that we got ours.*
We’re here and we’re fortunate by grace.
Sometimes it is the grace of fate and providence. Sometimes it is the fortune of having affluent or powerful allies. Sometimes it’s the grace of a good friend or a loving sweetheart.
Gratitude is recognizing this.
* Rant: Sometimes I just can’t help myself.
Sense of entitlement has been a running theme for a while and it’s time to lay some of that buttcrap to rest: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as declared by the United Nations, and the Geneva Convention segment regarding the treatment of refugees (like those escaping the Syrian conflict that so many people want to turn away) discuss at length the provisions to which every human has an established right (or rather provisions they should be given freely if civilization was in proper order).
According to both of these charters, every human being is entitled to a minimum standard of care, including not merely survival provisions, but religious accommodations, access to libraries and the internet and education enough to make informed decisions about their destinies. Observe that this is a standard of care that most nations (including the US) don’t extend to their own people, and others dismiss on the grounds that people are lazy and unwilling to work, usually while swimming in their vaults of lucre like Scrooge McDuck.
This is logically the reverse of the is/ought problem. Things ain’t as they ought to be. And people with power want to believe that it ought to be as it is. /rant
Edits I prematurely posted, but whatever. Also homophones.