Searching for ordinary ideals of Americana is like looking for consistency in the Internal Revenue Service’s tax code. It’s virtually nonexistent. The stimulating conviction of one American vastly differs from that of another.
One may celebrate adventures in mysticisms. Another may find inspiration from the bleacher seats of a college football game. While a third struggles to free himself of the orthodox hobgoblins that suffocate his soul.
In the more reputable papers, the story of the national struggle is told with feeble symmetry. The news seems to be reported from the position that the two party political system filters out any ideas to the contrary. We’re told a Marxian tale of the evil rich exploiting the noble poor. Even worse, we’re led to believe that buffoons like Ben Bernanke know exactly what the heck they’re doing.
We find this ongoing codswallop to be woefully different from the America we see and experience when we step out our front door each morning. Moreover, we find the abundance of thought polluting newspeak and commonsense destroying political correctness to be insulting and intolerable.
We’re confident that, despite being told what to think, people are capable of figuring things out on their own. In fact, from our observations, people can accomplish remarkable things when they need to.
The Difference Between a Helping Hand and a Handout
When it comes down to it, the American experience is for each individual to make of it what they will. Along the way, and despite their best efforts, no one escapes from getting kicked in the face every now and then. But even in the worst of times, there’s always something to be grateful for.
Perhaps that’s what makes Thanksgiving Day transcendent in American culture. More than any other holiday, people celebrate Thanksgiving with a shared conviction. Even the most ungrateful person can pause one day a year to give thanks.
Others are filled with gratitude every day. Take Kaisha, for instance. She’s thankful for the Long Beach Rescue Mission’s New Life Program. She’s also “very grateful” to all the donors for supporting the program, which she believes is a “once-in-a-lifetime chance.”
In our home city, the Long Beach Rescue Mission helps people help themselves. In addition to meals, they teach people to fish…so they can become self-supporting through their own contributions. And they do so entirely through private donations. No government funds are sought nor accepted.
The point is, sometimes people need a helping hand. But rarely do they need a handout. Moreover, rarely do people need to become dependents of the state for life. Dependency breeds ingratitude and poor citizenship. Letting others do the things one should be able to do for oneself is demoralizing and dispiriting.
Grateful People are Happy People
Yet with hard work, perseverance, and a little hope, even the most unskilled and uneducated can carve out a place for themselves. In doing so, they find the ability to hold their head up, stand on their own two feet, and give thanks for what they’ve been given…and what has been taken away.
Of course, there are many benefits of being grateful…including better health. According to the New York Times, “Cultivating an ‘attitude of gratitude’ has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners.”
But, in addition to better health and sounder sleep, gratitude can also lead to greater happiness. One of life’s essential axioms is, “Grateful people are happy people and those that aren’t, aren’t.”
We first encountered this adage many years ago, stenciled on the wall at a fellowship hall. The meaning of it is quite simple to understand. Yet its outcome, for those willing to practice it, is quite significant.
For with just a little daily gratitude even the most down and out discover there’s always something to be happy about. What’s more, even in difficult times there are always things to be grateful for…if just a moment is taken for reflection.
In the end, what’s going to happen happens. Who are we to say it wasn’t what should have happened or what ought to have happened…or that life isn’t good enough for us. So why not enjoy it and be thankful?
With just a brief moment of gratitude it becomes immensely obvious…we are blessed with a life of abundance better than we ever could have possibly deserved.
for Economic Prism