“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
“Even the poorest beggar, having nothing to give in return for the alms he has received, can always acknowledge a kindness by showing gratitude to his benefactor. … Yet this, a natural need of a humble soul, is a duty so often neglected even by good people, even by those who have received the most favors.” Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
We have received a plenitude of natural gifts, talents, circumstances, opportunities, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from war, freedom from fear, freedom from gratuitous persecution.
Most of us have a reasonable expectation of good health, and a long life barring natural disaster or mischance. Or at least we did have these freedoms in the past before we and our fathers ceded away those freedoms in return for the empty promises of Napoleon the pig.
In this culture we still have an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity in fact, that it is more a case of choosing which opportunity to pursue, rather than desperately seeking just ANY old opportunity, and as Mark Manson says:
“there existed (in the Anglo West) an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity that it became far more valuable to present yourself in a certain way, even if it was false, than to actually be that way. Trust lost its value. Appearances and salesmanship became more advantageous forms of expression”... trust lost it’s value, honesty lost it’s value, sincerity lost it’s value, gratitude lost it’s value …
Even under the current regime in Edmonton, and with the current economic climate we still have the luxury of looking for “appropriate” work rather than any work, and we don’t trust or appreciate anyone whilst getting ours first …. Why is Calgary a squalor of failing business (28 thousand a year at last count), while Edmonton is a thriving metropolis of growth and burgeoning government payrolls? Is there more fear in Calgary than in Edmonton? What do you see when you look around? What are we grateful for?
Yet, even here, in this global centre of resource riches, we have the poor. Jesus remarked “the poor will always be with you.” and so it is to this day. The programed poor, the working poor, the abject poor the handicapped poor, the psychologically poor, the spiritually poor, all are with us everywhere around us.
Often, in our busyness, our selfcenteredness, we don’t even notice those in need, those less well off, those who are losers in the lottery of life. When we look upon those all around us who have been gifted with less, even, in some cases, a lot less, then for all that we have been gifted we would think we should feel some need to express gratitude, shouldn’t we?
But we are also supposed to be, identified as, citizens of a womb to tomb nanny state which has promised everyone that all our “needs” will be met if we just acquiesce and faithfully follow our leader’s instructions. Following Napoleon’s instructions blindly, blindly, blindly …
Are all these things which we receive as gifts, the talents and circumstances mentioned above, are they received as gifts from the all powerful state? At some guaranteed minimum level we are promised free health care, free education, free housing, a guaranteed income sufficient to our basic needs, and so on.
So what about those talents and circumstances which provably don’t derive from our political and societal masters, which seem to spring from the human person in spite of the desires of our masters? Where do all those gifts come from? And if our masters truly are capable of meeting all our needs then how can there be poor people?
In a society where even the least of it’s citizens are promised everything they need by their government what is there to be grateful for?
Unless there is something greater than the state, there really isn’t any reason to be grateful since everything we have is our due, and deserved, right?
What is there to be grateful for then, unless we look at the state’s relation to our talents and abilities.
The government line notwithstanding we are manifestly not created equal and there are great disparities of ability and talent and motivation within the bell curve of our population.
Even the notional IQ of 100 being considered “normal” for the purposes of program eligibility implies a tacit acknowledgement on the part of the state that some people are “more equal” than others. so what is one to make of this provable and acknowledged inequality of talent and ability.
Is there some higher source of those personal talents which we are born with, something beyond merely accident of birth, the lottery of genetics, and so on?
More on “Gratitude” in a future post …
So much to be grateful for … why do we throw it all away for a handful of glass beads and promises? Let the scouring begin.