This I Believe: Gratitude-
“People say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Truth is, you knew what you had, you just never thought you’d lose it.” – Clarissa Wild, Author
We all share a specific entitlement, it is human nature to do so. We never really realize how much we have until we see the true value of it all; our life experiences shape who we are and who we become. You may be rich, you may be poor, but the sense that we are entitled to something is always there. It could be the luxury of having a new iPhone as soon as it comes out or it may be as simple as having your mother cook for you. It is only when you grasp at the realization that many others go through their daily existence in worse conditions than yours, it is only then that you realize. Realize how much you have had, how much you have to be grateful for, realize to appreciate the opportunities you were given in life, realize your happiness in comparison to others.
One may go through their whole life not understanding how good they have it, how much they did not and will not have to suffer to reach a comfortable point in life. I, on the other hand, had a heartbreaking revelation of the true extent of my comforts, something some will never experience, at the tender age of seven. Many call the homeless trash, filthy and useless; believing it is their fault that led to them ending up in the state they are now. Thinking it is easy to receive a job and they must be lazy, they must not be willing to even try to better themselves. I would know, as I grew up with relatives with similar mindsets, whether they voiced their thoughts or not, their faces showed the whole story. They have never been put into a position like that, they don’t know what these people went through to end up on the streets. Yet they judged, and some, if not most, continue to this day. They, as mentioned previously, did not have to work for anything they were given, they were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. As for me growing up, they had a big influence on me and for a while, I grew up thinking the same, for they were older than me so it was only reasonable they know better than me, right? I then started to avoid the homeless on the streets while walking, making sure there was a great distance between them and I. It was simple acts like this that embarrass me when I look back on it because I now realize how shameful I was acting. I was a gullible mind, I was still young, I did not know this was not right, I was just following the lead of my elders.
It was not until I went to India only to find the streets littered with the homeless, young and old, that I realized it was not always their fault for the situation that bestowed upon them. This new understanding did not hit me full force until I saw a girl no older than me ask my mother for some bread, to which my mother obliged. I then saw the girl run away across the street to give the bread to her brother, who looked to be no more than five years of age. I watched on with disbelief as people just simply passed by without a second glance. How unreal it felt to my naive mind that other humans chose to ignore the injustice happening right along the very path they walked, how inhumane the sight was to see. In truth, it was only I that was foolish in the situation, these people had lived in this environment their entire lives, they know they cannot help everyone, they must focus on themselves before they can on others.
We must recognize all the opportunities we are allowed to have, all the freedoms we have. We must be grateful for the life we lead, if not for ourselves then for those who could only dream.
Who could only dream to have loving and caring parents
Who could only dream to have been brought up in a safe environment.
Who could only dream to be able to go to school.
Who could only dream of being able to go to friends and teachers that support them?
Gratitude fills us with happiness and satisfaction, and even if we are not capable of doing anything for others, the least we can do is acknowledge. Acknowledge that we are living a more comfortable and fulfilling life, a privileged one. Acknowledge there are people with worse situations that we cannot even begin to imagine. Acknowledge that there are people who cannot help themselves, for in their dire situations it is up to those of us who are not suffering as they are to help. Have empathy for those that live such lives, for it may be you sitting on the sidewalk one day, begging for money, only to get the indifference of those who mill about. Gratitude helps you understand other’s perspectives, gives us the ability to appreciate, to enjoy the full essence of every moment. It helps us have a better attitude towards life, both of ours and others. I want to show everyone that we should not just devote two days out of a year to giving thanks and giving back to our communities. We can be thankful and give back every day with simple acts of gratitude.