Via Jon Gabriel:
My job requires me to follow all the awful things happening in the world; after all, that’s what makes up the news cycle. War and death and poverty and injustice (okay, and a few cat videos) fill my computer screen from the moment I wake until I go to bed. By the fourth day of the work week, it’s easy to cycle between outrage and despair.
Many on all sides succumb to this emotional low road, which is why there’s so much anger about failed politicians, terrible policies, and broken promises. Our grandparents would yell at the newspaper, our parents at the TV, and now we vent on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, amplifying the misery. In the past few years, we’ve seen mobs shutting down freeways and burning down neighborhoods while students at even the most exclusive universities screech about the raw deal they got in life.
A couple of weeks back, shouty children at Yale, Mizzou, and Dartmouth were furious about the terrorism in Paris. Not so much at the monsters who gunned down diners and music lovers, but at the rest of us for honoring the victims. Why should the murder of 130 take the spotlight off the ill-defined “structural oppression” of Ivy League millennials?
Too often, modern America has replaced virtue with victimhood, and the nation is poorer for it. Granted, the US remains one of the wealthiest nations in the history of mankind, but we’ve trained a generation not to recognize this obvious fact. Even to mention the manifold (and nearly miraculous) blessings of American life is a form of hate speech to the campus progressive.
In a far meaner age, Cicero said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” An attitude of thankfulness is a choice that is free to everyone — even those plagued with an education at an elite university. While it may be easier in the short term to whine, it makes for a downright miserable life — not only for oneself, but also for the dwindling number of people who surround the complainer.
This Thanksgiving, and in the days to follow, choose gratitude. Be thankful for the nation, for your life, for those whom you love and those who love you, flaws and all. Like a muscle, you can strengthen this virtue with regular exercise.