This morning my inbox held a right-leaning email admonishing the spoiled brats who are unsatisfied with this country as-is to quit complaining and be thankful for how good we have it. This seems to be a standard nugget of conservatism, and I thought I'd post my response to that email as today's blog...
I think it's interesting to consider whether people who are dissatisfied are really "spoiled brats" or if they're idealists who love the country and are thankful for all the good things - but see all the injustices and pockets of poverty, inequality and criminality as areas where we all need to focus our efforts so that we can make the most of the wonderful potential we'd like to believe lies within the structure of this nation. It's great to be thankful for what we have - as long as we don't let that thankfulness warp into something insular and exclusive.
Just because it will drive me crazy if I don't, I have to include the snopes link that gives more info on who actually wrote this and how it's changed over years of internet circulation: http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/hitnail.asp . :o)
I am thankful for freedom of speech. And separation of church and state. I'm thankful that I live in a town where my kids have access to an amazing public school district with outstanding teachers. I'm thankful that G-Rex can elect to opt out of the recitation of the pledge of allegiance without punishment and that we are free to follow our own consciences regarding spiritual belief. I'm thankful that J has a good job and that we have a home (although that 70% homeownership in the original email is a bit of a sore spot now, I think). I'm thankful that my kids have enough to eat - enough that we get to choose food based on the best sources of nutrition and taste and can eat what we like, not just whatever we can manage to glean. I'm thankful for city infrastructures - that our toilets flush and we can put our trash cans out on the curb and our trash goes away.
Meanwhile, more and more houses in our neighborhood are emptying. Last night, when we went Trick-or-Treating, we had to walk to another neighborhood, because ours was mostly dark. It's filled with For Sale signs. When I hear Financial people and economists on the news talking about our financial crisis being caused by the greed of the people - people buying bigger homes than they could afford, etc. etc. etc., I think it's telling that (around here, anyway) it's not the big houses in the wealthy areas that are going into foreclosure. It's the little houses - the starter homes and older buildings. The "greedy" people who were apparently too uppity and wanted more than they should have were those who were struggling to get into the middle class and listened to the experts who told them, a few years ago, that this was the route to take. Stash every penny possible into a 401(k) and everything else into a mortgage. And what do they have now?
There are parents of kids on G-Rex's soccer team who are joining "gleaning clubs" where they spend a small bit of money to be able to "shop" through damaged, outdated and rejected food items and paper goods. They're thankful to have enough trees on their property to be able to use wood heat for their houses, this winter, because the gas company raised rates astronomically, this year. Meanwhile, people we see on the news complaining about the economy are talking about how they'll have to take fewer vacations. Something's not adding up.
It seems to me that it's great to cultivate a sense of gratitude, but not let that lull us into a false sense of everything being OK.
Just my two cents. :o)