Monday, January 31, 2011

Being Purposefully Grateful

The cousin of my good friend was just murdered. Another good friend is going to Liberia again to help set up an NGO to help former boy soldiers - those that have fallen between the cracks of systems that try to catch those who've fallen between the cracks in countries like Liberia (the third poorest in the world) that seem to be made of nothing but parched, burned earth.

adam4photo © 2011 Al Jazeera English | more info (via: Wylio)
And, across Northern Africa, thousands upon thousands are risking their lives for a more democratic form of power- and resource-sharing.

Meanwhile... my family just moved on the boulevard, across the corner from our preschooler's private school. Meanwhile... our families and friends really pulled through to help us with the funds, brawn, baby-sitting, and moral support necessary to make this move.

And for this - and hosts of other reasons - I'm grateful.

But that's got me to thinking about what it truly means to be grateful. Does having gratitude just mean that I thank God that I am not like that person? Or is there something more to it than that? Is it just a bit of self-absorbing acknowledgment? This idea that God must love me because I have a fairly stable job, my community isn't riddled with violence, I was born into a politically stable country with rich resources (made even richer by exploiting others with rich resources but political instability).

Gitmo protestorsphoto © 2009 Alan | more info (via: Wylio)Would being grateful also mean that I acknowledge that I have the power and ability to effect change? That even though I have more, even though my life is fairly stable, even though I have a gorgeous child and easy access to the internet and food, doesn't mean that I shouldn't do what's in my power to make sure that others can as well?

Work, call, phone, vote, bug, march, organize so that my neighbors aren't being displaced, so that quality jobs and education can reach ALL the neighbors and families in Chicago. So that each child can eat and eat well. So that my country would stop propping up bogus and oppressive leaders in SouthEast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America.

Recognizing my blessings, how can I not work to make sure others are similarly blessed? Wouldn't that be the true meaning (or at least the meaningful meaning) of gratefulness?

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