Thankfulness Seems to be a Losing Virtue

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A lady standing in line at a Chick-fil-A conveys her disgust that she didn’t get enough sauce packets with her order. A young teenage boy complains that he has to take a 45-minute ride with his family to see his grandparents for Thanksgiving. An elderly couple murmur about their daughter-in-law’s stuffing recipe and how it wasn’t to their liking. A twenty-something young man doesn’t make it to his family’s Thanksgiving dinner because he doesn’t want to deal with the drama. Hundreds of millions of examples could be added to this list on a daily basis from people experiencing the same thing: a lack of thankfulness in this world.

At an early age, most children are taught to say “thank you.” It is a sign of appreciation or at least recognition that something was done for them. If a child is not taught the importance of saying thank you there is a level of entitlement and privilege that grows in the inner-psyche. They expect service. They give immediate feedback to discontentment. They pout, throw fits, and even lash out at their providers in extreme cases. If the child is not taught the importance of thankfulness they grow into adults to reject the concept completely.

Now, imagine generations of people who aren’t thankful for the world they live in. People who believe that they are the center of everyone else’s storyline. A storyline that focuses on their pleasures, their attentions, their wants and needs. You can see that this would quickly diminish the concept and implementation of being thankful.

I’m not one of those people who walks around saying, “You think you have it tough! Well, what about all those people in the olden days?” I don’t highlight the mythology of pilgrims and how they are the role models of thankfulness. Yet, of the 100 people who boarded the Mayflower in 1620, only half of them were alive the next spring. They saw disease and death, and they recognized that being alive was a gift.

With today’s internet-dependent, apocalyptic-minded, entertainment-based generation, we don’t seem to be seeing the need for appreciation. In fact, the exact opposite seems to be true. We see a need to pick apart the world we live in and those who inhabit it. If the world is presumed to be ending in 10 years, wouldn’t we want to make the best of it? If this is the generation that information doubles every year, wouldn’t we want to bask in the incredible, awe-provoking concept that the world is a vast and complex creation? If people are more isolated than ever before because of social media, wouldn’t we want to lean into the real relationships we have and make sure they know that we appreciate them and want our interconnections to be mutually beneficial?

So, feel the weight of your phone in your hand. It is a technological miracle that you are given the privilege to use. Look in the eyes of the people around you. They are people who share your history, your DNA, and your legacy. Look at the food around the table. There are more choices, flavors, and technological cooking advancements than ever before. There is so much to be thankful for. There is so much to appreciate and highlight. Don’t use today (and the days to follow) as excuses to point out the problems, the flaws, the issues. Instead, use it at a time to flex your thankfulness. You will be thankful you did.

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