What It Means To Be Grateful In America
American Pride and Shame
I am American. Those three little words will elicit reactions ranging from pride to scorn depending on where one is upon uttering them. Americans do have a great deal to be boastful about yet it is for those same reasons that Americans should learn to practice humble tactfulness. So many of today’s generation of Americans have been so far displaced from the hard won battles that our ancestors fought to get to where we are today that there is a lack of true appreciation. Without being able to fully appreciate those noble efforts, we cannot truly begin to grasp the substantial significance of the freedoms we have.
Instead of being grateful for the things we are able to do, many Americans are more grateful for the things we are able to have. Please pardon the language, but we have become stereotyped as being ‘label whores’. Despite my cringing while writing this, I must admit that stereotypes do not manifest without at least some truth behind it and there is plenty of proof to warrant this abhor able classification. It bothers me deeply that I feel helpless to make any kind of recognizable dent in disproving the image as far too few of my fellow countrymen share my distaste for the worship of brand names.
It should not matter who is responsible for creating the objects I choose to use so long as it is built with high standards to last longer than the Swiss-cheese warranty. When I make a purchase, I look beyond the tag to see if I can find any discernable proof of quality. Customer reviews go along way towards convincing me so long as the customers in questions are those that I personally know do not have a vested interest in seeing that particular product sell.
Not so very long ago, people in this country could care less about who you wore than who you were. Of course there was always fashion and there have always been some people to whom that mattered more than anything but more often than not, you would find people scoffing at those who flaunted high dollar name brands. During our dark days of the Great Depression, a man’s good reputation was more likely to bring home the bacon than his clothes. Before that tragedy, people understood the value of hard labor and respected it. You were somebody if you were a farmer. Then everybody lost so much, if not everything, that you were somebody if you could procure a loaf of bread.
Fast forward to when children of the Great Depression were entering into adulthood and you will see the beginnings of our reign of selfishness. Having grown up having nothing and always being turned down, these individuals decided that they were never going to want for anything again. Their children came along and they got whatever they wanted and the same went for their children. That generation knew nothing of going hungry, literally or figuratively. Life was for living and they meant to enjoy all of it.
There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for your children, I do and any parent worth their weight in salt does, too. There is also something to be said for teaching the value of life. What it means to be able to ride down the road in the two or four wheeled vehicle of your choice playing the music of your choice wearing the clothes of your choice with the passengers of your choice as you head to the location of your choice. There are places in this big world that have laws regulating every aspect of a person’s private lives.
There are people hiding books under floorboards, radios behind walls, alcohol in false drawers, clothing of certain styles and/or colors stuffed anywhere they can find a spot, cosmetics, perfumes/colognes, jewelry, movies, computers with internet, just about anything that Americans value, cherish, and are unquestionably ungrateful for. It is not for us to understand why, we may never discover the source behind their anger. The only thing that we can do about it is prove them wrong. The old saying goes ‘kill them with kindness’. In this case, what that means is changing how we treat what we have, from our freedom of speech to our ‘made in China’ televisions. It is well past time for Americans to wake up and reset our priorities. We do not need to ‘get back to basics’ to do that, though it certainly would not hurt. We simply need study the word grateful and teach ourselves how to live by that definition.
feeling or expressing thanks:having or showing the desire or reason to thank somebody I'm very grateful to you for your help.
comforting:giving pleasure or comfort (archaic or literary)
[Mid-16th century. < obsolete grate "pleasing, thankful" < Latin gratus ]
-grate·ful·ly, , adv
-grate·ful·ness, , n
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