Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vices and Virtues: Gratitude

Gratitude is the most poorly expressed of the virtues. Thanksgiving is the worst of holidays.
We set up a holiday that is to make us think about what we are grateful for and then what? We go to church and thank a deity for those things and then we go home and eat until we are sick. Does that make ANY sense?
What is the point of gratitude? The point of gratitude is not to just FEEL thankful but to express it. But where do the things you are thankful come from? By and large they come from people. The home, the clothes, the food, the stuff, it all comes from people. There are stores full of sales people and cashiers and baggers. The stuff got bought with money. Provided by your employer and with the help of your employer's accomplices, your co-workers. If you run a business, you have clients or customers who provide the money. There are countless other people who provide services that make your life comfortable and enjoyable. The house got built and repaired and maintained by people, often members of your family or your friends. Your kids have teachers, you have doctors and nurses and dentists and hairdressers and other people everywhere everyday that enrich your life. Even nature is there because someone preserved or cultivated it and you probably enjoy nature because someone accompanies you on excursions into it. Natural areas have caretakers and people who keep them clean and safe. Farmers cultivate the beautiful fields and your neighbor cultivates his beautiful garden. If you are thanking a god and eating too much due to your annual gratitude, you are bastardizing what gratitude is supposed to be. If your god has all the qualities you claim he does, he does not need to be thanked, but the people out there do! It would make their task a little lighter to know someone appreciates it!
Figure out who, which people, are responsible for each of the things you are grateful for and express that gratitude to those people. With a note in a card, with an email, with a phone call, with flowers or a gift. And don't do it just once a year, but do it on a regular basis, year around, often and always. When you receive the 'gift' from them is best but any time later that you think of it is really nice too. Live a life of gratitude by sharing it with everyone everyday all the time. An eat a nice light salad on Thanksgiving Day.