Wednesday Journaling Writes: Gratitude in Global Terms
This post is about Thanksgiving, but not in the expected way of suggesting things to be thankful for. Not in the traditional sumptuousness of the feast and family ritual that describe the holiday for many of us. No, this post is about gratitude in comparison. This post, to be brief, is not for the faint of heart.
When you consider things that you can be grateful for, you can probably come up with a respectable list. If you live in the developed world, you have received many blessings, even if your challenges are manifold as well.
But there is no comparison at all between our comfortable lives and the lives of, say, children in Syria or North Korea. These human beings know destruction and fear far beyond anything most of us have ever seen.
Or compare your life - no matter how fraught with financial, psychological, social, and relationship issues – with that of a person living in the African Congo, or a homeless person in Kansas City.
A teacher once said, “We should always stay aware of our narrow escape.”
How is it that you were born into one heritage, when other humans are born into less-developed cultures, so you have an advantage and the other must struggle to survive?
How does the comparison of your two lives make you feel? Sad? Annoyed? Frustrated? Compassionate? Curious?
If you really want to enhance your Thanksgiving this year, try meditating on the plight of those in the third world who face deprivation and terror every day.
At first, the image will sicken you, of course. Who wants to focus on such negativity?
Yet who can justify ignoring it, either?
So I dare you. I dare you to spend a half hour this Thanksgiving weekend journaling about your fellow humans who need your love and support.
- On a new page of your journal, write a description of someone – either imaginary, based on information you have read, or a real person, culled from news sources – who lives in a third world or embattled country, who endures an existence of constant threat. Be as detailed as you can in your descriptions or imaginings.
- Now write about your feelings. This person you just described is in great need. What, way down deep, is your personal response to that need?
- Reflect on how your life compares with that of the person you just described. What is the middle ground between your personal woes and those of someone in desperate need?
- There are multiple ways to support any cause, from reading and learning about it, to donating money, to personally volunteering. Journal about ways you might work to alleviate the suffering of your fellow global citizens. Imagine solutions to a world problem and describe your ideas in detail.
- Looking at the people around you, those who share your daily life and especially those who share Thanksgiving with you, what does each one of them teach you? How can you show your gratitude for their teachings?
We are one world. Maybe that’s the deepest meaning of Thanksgiving.
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