So many of our time-tested, traditional behaviors are dismissed as valueless by one generation only to be found to be important by the next. Perhaps it is the cycle of humans to reject those things that remind us of our parents — only to be shown that our folks were right all along.
One could add to the list: simple human gratitude. For some, giving thanks was a precursor to every meal and a focus of most Sunday mornings. We were reminded to hold up those who had grown, delivered and prepared our food. We were urged to praise God who had created our bodies to make good use of that nourishment. And almost without fail, we were retold that many others did not have our advantages. We shared, sometimes apocryphal, stories of starving children, families without shelter and loved-ones at risk in far-away wars. The message was a simple one: No matter how bad we indulged ourselves in evaluation of our own conditions, we should be reminded of our good fortune.
Now, decades later, the prayer before meals has largely been erased. And the civil discourse that once urged grateful restraint has been replaced by rapacious demand for divisiveness, entitlement and tribalism. At the same time, countless authors, columnists and television self-help stylists urge us to give thanks. In fact, these last few years have brought many studies about the value of gratitude. We’ve learned giving is good. Thanking is good. We are encouraged to keep journals, to appreciate those around us and to share our abundance. It seems that it makes us healthier and happier.
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