I think it’s unfortunate that we here in the good ol U.S of A. have a holiday designated to remind us once a year to be grateful for all we have and are provided with. I think of the prior Native American cultures and their practice of thanking plants, animals, water, wind, etc. for nurturing and sustaining their lives and those of their families; every day of the year was Thanksgiving. Their simple acknowledgement of the interconnections between themselves and Earth’s abundant resources providing for them resulted in the ritual expression of gratitude and prayer.
I think the practice of gratitude has far reaching effects on the lives of those who entertain it. I personally was raised with the “glass half empty” perspective and have spent a large part of my adult life letting go of the scarcity point of view and trading it for a “half full” point of view. The one results in a genuine and sustainable happiness, the other in discontent and restlessness. It initially surprised me to learn that gratitude precedes joy and not the other way around.
The pursuit of happiness promised us in the Constitution seems to have become a self fulfilling prophecy. Our culture is indeed addicted to a sense of scarcity and results in an addiction to consuming more and more. The adage “looking for love in all the wrong places” can be substituted with our futile search for “happiness” in all the wrong places. We are in fact, addicted and driven by marketing and societal brainwashing to continuously pursue happiness and briefly if ever, obtain it. Usually our happiness is superficial because it comes from a sort of temporary glow over our brand new, upgraded cell phone, laptop, car, shoes, etc. you fill in the blank. These purchases and accumulations don’t really get to the heart of our hearts resulting in the deeper joy and satisfaction we long for.
I have trouble with Christmas itself. The Scrooge is the icon for stingy self- centeredness. The Grinch another American “humbug” character. I wouldn’t be surprised if the origin of the Grinch was dreamt up by some marketing executive in a moment of inspiration. Let’s guilt the public into buying gifts for others in the name of generosity of spirit, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you really contemplate it, do you think Christ would be promoting a once a year, buying and giving spree rather then a continuous generosity born of genuine affection rooted in a daily spirit of love and appreciation?
Are we so consumed by the modern frenzy and speed of life on an average day? Alvin Toffler wrote “Future Shock” way back in the early sixties. Have we stopped to notice the effects on our own health and well being of others from our over stimulated, compulsive “doing” and manically over-achieving society? The symptoms of depression and anxiety are seen in our ever growing dependence on pharmaceuticals to mask and manage these symptoms.
How would life here be different for us all if we began to be satisfied with owning the same car for 8 or ten years? Buying a house just large enough for the size and needs of our families instead of some extravagant castle? Working only 40 hours a week and leaving ourselves time and energy to spend with our families in activities that nurture our bodies and souls?
Is it time to wake up neighbors? Wake up perhaps and see that the solution to the dilemmas we face economically, environmentally, physically, psychologically and spiritually are driven by our unbalanced manic racing towards “more, better, faster”. When is enough enough? How is your peace and serenity doing?
Another obvious and fatal result of our frenzied lifestyle in our alleged ”developed nations” is our life threatening addictions like drinking, smoking, lusting and over eating to name just a few. On the other end of our dis-ease we are greeted by debilitating and/or fatal afflictions such as heart attacks, cancer and the myriad forms of illness that all to some degree or another suffer from.
We are the only animals on this planet that do harm to ourselves, that knowingly practice unhealthy behaviors. How bad do things have to get for us all before we are willing to collectively stop, and take a united and realistic assessment of how our behaviors, beliefs and habitual ways of thinking are driving us toward extinction? Call me an alarmist or a curmudgeon like Scrooge and keep your head buried in the sand but if we don’t awaken to our unmindful self defeating actions now, we will continue to pay the price until perhaps we are no longer around to pay at all.