30 November 2013

Gluttony and Gratitude


On our national holiday of Thanksgiving, how much time is apportioned to that aim? It seems this holiday has become a carnival of gluttony -- a gluttony of overeating, overspending, and over extending. It's the start of a season of excess, just TOO MUCH of everything. Black Friday (which starts now on the day before -- the day of Thanksgiving) is a gluttony of overspending, often for no more than just a "good price." We don't even stop to consider that no matter how "good" the price is, it's expended for something we really don't need and could easily do without. We are lost in an orgy of bargain-finding, a free-falling descent into the dehumanizing free-for-all over those oh-so-fabulous "doorbuster" deals that really aren't and of which there are never enough available. And, our pursuit of this excess denies those poor workers even this day of rest -- for, how can they revel in time with family and friends and still serve us? I'm not the first person to bemoan the gluttony of the holidays, nor of society in general:

He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have. -- Socrates

Do you think it is a vain hope that one day man will find joy in noble deeds of light and mercy, rather than in the coarse pleasures he indulges in today -- gluttony, fornication, ostentation, boasting, and envious vying with his neighbor? I am certain this is not a vain hope and that the day will come soon. -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamzov

Let me have men about me that are fat; sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights; yonder Cassius has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much; such men are dangerous. -- William Shakespeare

We have let ourselves become consumed with the pursuit of TOO MUCH. We stunt ourselves and our children, our society and our nation in this pursuit. The stagnation of our government and our economy is the tangible result of our avaricious pursuit of all the newest, shiniest, most prestigious STUFF. We ourselves have been so consumed by this pursuit that we've allowed a minority of extreme viewpoints to seize power in our nation -- to the left and to the right. The majority middle have become the "…fat; sleek-headed men…" too busy with the "…coarse pleasures he indulges…" to stand up and be counted for what is right and reasonable in our natures, in our nation, in our whole world.

Sometimes, it seems that gratitude itself has become an archaic concept. Examples of gluttony, of excess abound. We see it in our expanding bodies, our expanding debt, our groaning and overladen tables, and our bulging closets and cupboards. It can never be enough. The voices of reason and restraint are drowned out by the raucous haranguing that never stops urging us to buy more… eat more… wear more… change more… MORE… MORE… MORE…

But, here's the thing: in our gluttonous pursuits, we lose the ability to see our bounty. We forget how to be grateful, to give thanks. Gratitude enriches us by opening our eyes to the riches we already possess, that we have no need to pursue. Gratitude makes us better human beings. It opens space for us to relax and enjoy what we already have and to appreciate the grace and miracles that abound in every moment of every single day. And, it moves us to live as we would go on in the world to preserve that bounty.

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. -- Epicurus

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. -- John F. Kennedy

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. -- Cicero

by D. Denise Dianaty
© 30 November 2013

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