Gratitude is not only the greatest of values, but the parent of all others. (Cicero)
Being a Chinese-Filipino living in the Philippines, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. However, there’s a lot to be said about this special holiday and the meaning behind it: Rooted in religious tradition but also celebrated secularly, Thanksgiving is meant to commemorate the autumn harvest and the year that was. (And it’s not even celebrated on one day unlike New Year’s Day, so don’t judge me for writing this before American Thanksgiving. :p After all, the Canadian Thanksgiving has passed, as has that of Liberia.)
Wait a minute: doesn’t that sound familiar? Cue personal social responsibility.
The quote I mentioned above is apt for this as apt can be. My belief in God should ideally – and I say this as a reminder to myself – lead to gratitude for His love and for the blessings granted me – my very existence and being itself notwithstanding – and in turn lead to a desire to emulate that love as a way of concretely showing my gratitude (remember, actions speak louder than words). From there, we can see the semblances of ethical conduct, charity, and everything else take shape. Indeed, gratitude is the mother of all values except for love – which I should say is either the spouse of gratitude, or the only thing above it. (I only philosophize rarely, give me a break)
The realization of gratitude can be found in so many ways. I actually came across this article by Nathan W. Pyle on BuzzFeed, and humorous though it may be, it is actually very deep and insightful. It is entitled “10 Privileges I Have Complained About”, and it’s about the occasional nuance in our lives that we take for granted but in fact shouldn’t. Visit the link, and you’ll see ten photos with sliders where you can see the other half of the message.
For example, “When my name is misspelled… …I’m privileged I have disposable income.” An obvious throwback to Starbucks, where the bartenders very thoughtfully get our names to add that touch of personal service. It also happens to be quite expensive, and unless you’re wealthy (or just a spendthrift), it is definitely not an everyday drink. So the mere fact that I’m able to go to Starbucks (which is not very often) means I have money to spend on a non-essential.
Another goes, “When my flight is delayed… …I’m privileged to travel for leisure.” I don’t agree 100%, in the sense that even flights for business trips can be delayed with potentially disastrous results (with regards to the business matter). But the mere fact that one has to travel for business is privilege enough already, what more leisure. More importantly, whether you shelled out the money for your ticket or it was sponsored is immaterial, because you are blessed both ways – either you have enough money to afford flying, or you are loved by someone (hint: they’re NOT our siblings, uncles, or aunts).
Especially in today’s world of ever-increasing convenience and speed, we tend to be unhappy when something that compromises said convenience, or even comfort, comes up – forgetting in the process that there was something that led to said compromise, and that something is a privilege we may or may not deserve. Regardless, deserve or not, it warrants a thankful, humble attitude, because we never attain success through our actions alone. Someone or something always contributes to it, and I believe it is all rooted down to God.
You may say, “Well, I earned my money by working hard.” Well, who gave you the money? Either your boss or your company. “But they’re obliged to do so.” Yes, by the law, law that was written by individuals who had the best interests of people like you in mind. And how did they think of having said interests? I leave it to you to answer.
Especially now that Christmas is coming – the time when to be most thankful – it would jump-start our CSR living to take a step back and reflect on the many things that we should be thankful for. Even The Secret preaches gratitude. The Japanese take it as a cultural custom very seriously. Take the best of both worlds – the custom of and the meaning behind gratitude – and live it out.
Is there anything you should be thankful for that you may have overlooked? I’d love to hear from it below!