13/12/2021 0 Comments
THIS CHRISTMAS GIVE THE GIFT OF THANKFULNESS
I DON’T OWE ANYONE ANYTHING!
The adolescent declares, often and very truculently, that they have nothing to be thankful for. “I didn’t ask to be born; I don’t owe anyone anything!”
Thankfulness, implying that you’re a recipient, can in a simplistic power play narrative, feel like weakness relative to who or whatever has the power to give.
The adolescent at any age insists “I have a right to my car, clothes, food, warmth, drink, money; denying the extraordinary privilege of inhabiting a world which can provide the ordinary person with luxuries that would have been be the envy of the Caesars.
GIVING THANKS IS A GRACEFUL ACT
Giving thanks is a simple courtesy, a graceful, singularly human act that requires no belief system. It’s a quiet exhalation of gratitude. Gratitude for the miracle of sweet clean water on tap, a warm bed, that restoring cup of coffee, a world market of exotic food and goods within easy access to everyone, the labour of all those without which our world could not function.
A “thank you” acknowledges your worth. Thankful people are a gift; they soften the harder edges of living.
A BULLET AND AN ARCH-DUKE
It can be useful, just occasionally, to remind ourselves of the transience of things we take for granted; to remember that not so long ago our powerful western civilization came within a hair’s breadth of total annihilation, the result of an otherwise unremarkable incident in an unremarkable little country called Sarajavo, involving a bullet and an arch-duke.
I find it interesting that the go-to reaction on the part of our western civilization, on finding ourselves to be the most privileged people that ever existed in the world, is more often than not one of cringing guilt.
And I’m unimpressed with the kind of person who generously supplies themselves with all the goodies our successful economy can provide: hi-tech phones and laptops, the latest car, foreign travel … while at the same time indulging in a cringe-worthy guilt-fest about all the terrible awful things that are happening all over the world so everyone can see how virtuous they are.
NO ONE HAS THE POWER TO FIX THE WORLD
In the first place, despite all the media hand wringing, no one has the power to fix the world, climate change, homelessness, famine. These big, awe inspiring words are stuffed with unexamined assumptions.
I can help a neighbour, inspire a positive action group, clean my street, clean my room, try to make myself a better person for god’s sake! But such actions don’t even register a blip on the strident media sound-track of our lives that constantly demands that we feel a painful sense of guilt about things that we didn’t cause and really, truly, have no power to change.
IF YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT HAVING NICE STUFF YOU’RE A BAD PERSON
The prevailing message is this: if you feel good about having stuff you’re a bad person. But if you wallow in painful guilt that prevents you enjoying anything, you can have all your stuff, but feel like a good - virtuous person.
It’s rubbish. Guilt is a universe away from those timeless, practical, un-dramatic virtues like accountability and responsibility that have always motivated people to simply do the right thing without making a song and dance about it.
GUILT IS A CORROSIVE, WEAKENING
Guilt is a corrosive, weakening self-indulgent emotion that achieves absolutely nothing for those about whom we feel guilty. Guilt is a feeling of failure, and guilty feelings of failure are painful. At a deep unconscious level we feel angry at those who cause painful feelings. And angry people are vengeful people.
DON’T DO GUILT, DO GIVING!
You can’t fix the world. But there are extraordinary people out there, dedicated professionals with years of experience in helping real victims, the fallout from all our huge unfixable economic, geographical, historical problems.
Simply pick three charities. Then quietly … shhh - don’t tell anyone …add their names to the existing payees on your bank account. Then whenever you’re messing around with your money just tip in a fiver, fifty, whatever.
Why do this? Think of it as an act of gratitude for your amazing good fortune that you, today, are not in need of their services!
HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERY ONE