6/05/11: On gratefulness

I’m listening to Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) this morning. His voice is ethereally gorgeous, I’ve never heard a voice anything like its clear-as-a-bell vibrato.  I’m choosing his songs as a background for my day because they lean me towards the raw, achy loneliness that I find so enchanting. This voice reminds me to stay, to wait and see, to find a bit of joy within the dismal forecast. I am grateful for his music.

I have struggled to learn and practice gratefulness. Religions, particularly Christianity, teach it as a lofty spiritual value. I know that my own practice of gratefulness helps me get through the day. But lately, I’ve come to view gratitude as just an American form of selfishness. I am grateful because, not only could it be worse, but for most of the world, it is worse. I think about earthquakes and tornadoes, wars and hunger, daily violence, and I am grateful for … what? To not have to experience earthquakes, wars, and hunger myself?

I think gratitude, as an attitude, only goes so far. It helps us to ignore the reality of suffering. It is a far cry from compassion.

So Antony is the recipe for the day. Listen if you get a chance. Be grateful, but try to practice compassion.

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3 Responses to 6/05/11: On gratefulness

  1. Yes. And, of course, I want to say thank you.

  2. jane hathaway says:

    I agree–being (and saying one is) grateful is for the privileged, and there is nothing of compassion in it. And taking it further, there is nothing of exiting one’s privilege in order to ameliorate someone else’s situation, or of radical action. If one is grateful, she is glad for her good fortune, and intends to hold onto it.

  3. jane hathaway says:

    BTW, the above is all about me, not you!

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