How Gratitude Can Reset Our Cultural Equilibrium
Uncovering a Remedy For the False Disease of Scarcity
Hopelessness is overwhelmingly pervasive in our culture. Even people who consider themselves spiritual or “hopeful” are being bombarded every day with news that threatens them to believe that nothing but difficult times are ahead. Naturally, we’re all looking for a remedy, thinking it will come in the next relationship, the next shopping spree, a new accomplishment, or hopefully, the correct political candidates winning.
This is a sick cycle that continually keeps us in want. Even if we get what we desire, there are always going to be giant gaps of discontent that remain untouched. At least, that’s been my experience for the past half century.
Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” I will lack nothing. I won’t need a thing. One translation even boldly declares, “The Lord is my best friend and my Shepherd. I always have more than enough.” (TPT)
Why do many of us feel this is not the case? Why do we feel like this Psalm might apply to some people, but definitely not us? We’ve become convinced that we are lacking—that we don’t have enough. Marketers and advertisers are genius at creating need in us that we never even knew we had. The constant barrage of messages on TV, radio, and online, are designed to show us a continual parade of fancy, new things we don’t yet have, but that will make our life considerably more awesome.
Remember the SkyMall catalogs they used to have on airplanes? It was the Sears Christmas catalog for grown-ups! So many whimsical items promised to enhance our life with their presence. You could get a canvas painting of your animal as a 17th century nobility. Or maybe it was a mounted squirrel head you were craving. Got it! SkyMall captured our boredom and promised life-enhancement. Sure, these are all pretty ridiculous. But this isn’t much different than what a Target ad offers to liven up your doldrums.
In contrast, when visiting Honduras with a child sponsorship organization I saw first-hand what appeared to be abject poverty in which hundreds and thousands of people were living. They had built houses literally made of garbage. But what was even more stunning, was their state of contentment I witnessed. None in our group could ever fathom living in such conditions. But these beautiful Hondurans had life, family, friends, and a place to call their own. I could see a curious peace had filled their hearts.
We discussed as a group about how, even out of goodwill, we could potentially disturb the equilibrium of their culture if we were to bring in fancy gifts or basic technology, things we couldn’t imagine living without in the United States.
How can we reset our own cultural equilibrium and get off this sick carousel of manufactured desire, spending, and accumulating? I believe it’s through the incredible power of gratitude.
As we learn to be grateful for what we have, our unquenchable desire starts to be quenched. When we look around and see all that we have been afforded in our lives, it’s increasingly possible to let peace and contentment be the grounding of our lives, like those I witnessed in Honduras.
This Thanksgiving, let’s do a little experiment. Could we possibly demonstrate our gratitude for all we have by refraining from the urge to accumulate things we don’t really need? Instead of using the holiday season to mass more debt and appease our wildest desires, let’s see if we can start a revolution of gratitude, by holding onto our wallets, and more importantly, by holding onto the people in our lives who we would never want to live without. And by letting the continual words out of our mouth be Thank You.
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One of my most popular songs is “Precious Memories,” a song of gratitude and love that was included in the film “Clancy.” It’s also on my Pilgrim Man and Messenger projects. I’m so grateful for how people have embraced this song. Check out this video if you want to see some film clips and a younger me walking in slow motion, interacting with different characters from the movie.
SO BLESSED AND SO GRATEFUL. THANKS FOR THE REMINDERS!