06 April 2010

Gratitude Can Be Transformative

A wonderful young friend wrote to say that yesterday's post helped with something she has to do for the end of her term at university.

"This includes writing journals about environmental ethics. One of my topics is "Animals and Their Uses," and your blog has provided me with that added boost of confidence to write what I really feel, not the watered down version. Thanks!"
I also received a message from someone who read my webpages on prayers for the Earth and saying grace (yes, on a sustainability education website — being thankful is transformative!). "My heart is a grateful one!" she said. Check out her lovely idea for a gratitude prayer.

That got me thinking that perhaps we really need to push this notion of gratitude, of being appreciative of what we've got. There are billions who go without enough food every day (though I recently read that more people die from obesity-related illnesses than from starvation now, but I'm not willing to celebrate that). Something like 24,000 children die each day from hunger, poverty, easily preventable diseases, lack of clean drinking water. The ravages of global climate change are compounding these problems. Now try to bitch about a dirty house or a cranky neighbour or boss.
Gratitude is a moral power. And as such it can be utterly disarming.
—Laurence Thomas
And back to my young friend's dilemma. "Animals and Their Uses." What a hard-hearted topic, eh? Well, first, since human beings are animals, she could have some fun going in that direction! My significant other says that the purpose of humans on this Earth is to appreciate beauty. Indeed, what is the one class of living things whose evolution human beings have strongly influenced? (See response below.)

Or my friend could write about all the gifts we receive from other animals and the rest of Nature. That would turn the topic on its ear, eh? She could write it from a place of gratitude ... now wouldn't that be refreshing in a class on resource management and environmental ethics???

You go, Girl!

Note: Cartoon used with permission — and gratitude!

p.s. What's the answer to the question "what is the one class of living things whose evolution human beings have strongly influenced?" Flowers! Because they're beautiful. Apparently human beings have totally influenced the evolution of flowers to create more beauty in our lives.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?