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Gratitude on Memorial Day
Old 05-28-2007, 12:06 PM   #1
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Gratitude on Memorial Day

I understand that Memorial Day is a day to honor those who have fought for and died for our country but I'd like to extend the gratitude to all the men and women who came before us.

I am reading a book called "The Progress Paradox" which many of you have probably read. I was especially moved by a section on gratitude, moved from my day-to-day perspective revolving around me and my little life. Here's the quote:

Finally, there is the question of whether we have a duty to feel grateful. Hundreds of generations who came before us lived dire, short lives, in deprivation or hunger, in ignorance or under oppression or during war, and did so partly motivated by the dream that someday there would be men and women who lived long lives in liberty with plenty to eat and without fear of an approaching storm.

Suffering through privation, those who came before us accumulated the knowledge that makes our lives favored; fought the battles that made our lives free; physically built much of what we rely on for our prosperity; and, most important, shaped the ideals of liberty. For all the myriad problems of modern society, we now live in the world our forebears would have wished for us--in many ways, a better place than they dared imagine. For us not to feel grateful is treacherous selfishness.

Note that the author feels strongly that it is our duty to be grateful. I don't agree that it is a duty to feel that way--gratitude cannot be forced. But taking the time to think how we stand not only on the "shoulders of giants" but the ordinary men and women who came before us and to realize that whatever we have in our own lives could not have been possible without the effort, influence, and love of others might kindle a spark of gratitude and inspire us to be happier, kinder, and more giving.

Wow, Sunday's over already. I hope this does not sound too sermon-like. I was just lifted a bit by what I read and wanted to share.

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Old 05-28-2007, 05:09 PM   #2
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i've had the argument more than once with friends and aquaintances who think they deserve to keep, untaxed, all the money they earn. they feel they did it all on their own so why should anyone else get a cut. it never ceases to amaze me how i have to remind them that their fortune would not have been possible during feudalism or had we ever become subjects of totalitarianism along the way to where we are now, able to accumulate such amazing individual wealth. and none of this would have been possible weren't it for the spilled blood of others.

during hip-hop festival in south beach this memorial day weekend, the veterans for peace built a 2500-grave site--in lummus park, right on ocean drive--for the iraq fallen. many had names & ages of the dead. other "tomb stones" were left blank and markers were made available for visitors to fill in the names of their loved ones.


"off with their heads"~~dr. joseph-ignace guillotin

"life should begin with age and its privileges and accumulations, and end with youth and its capacity to splendidly enjoy such advantages."~~mark twain - letter to edward kimmitt 1901
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Old 05-28-2007, 06:25 PM   #3
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Yesterday I saw a wonderful concert/service from DC honoring the fallen and badly wounded veterans of all our wars, but especially Afghanistan and Iraq. 3800 dead and rising, and over 24,000 severely wounded! In prior times, there would be many more dead, as many of these wounded would never have made it home.

I was glad to have seen this, and although it was very painful to watch, I felt as an American I would be a schmuck if I couldn’t handle this small gesture. I remember as a boy, Memorial Day was called Remembrance Day, and was dedicated to decorating graves-first of the war dead in one’s family, then of the other family members who had passed over.

Originally Posted by flipstress View Post
Note that the author feels strongly that it is our duty to be grateful. I don't agree that it is a duty to feel that way--gratitude cannot be forced.

This is unclear to me. Overall, I feel that more things should be taught and strongly sanctioned as duties. As a society we did this quote well prior to the 60s, and then it all fell apart, giving us the hedonistic materialistic mess that we now support.

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Old 05-29-2007, 06:30 PM   #4
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I am often grateful to those people who have personally helped me but I seldom widen the recipients of my gratitude to people with whom I have not had personal contact. Once in a rare while, I get to lift my head up from the center of my universe (me!) and from my current place in time with reminders like that passage from the book.

It is also not hard for me to understand(?) or relate to the Buddhist view that we are all one, but somehow I just include the ones who are alive and present now but not those who have died. I want to read and learn more about history.

I guess I would not feel good with constant reminders of duty to be grateful but you are both probably right in that the pendulum has swung too much to the extreme of individualism (every man for himself and whatever I have I worked for it and tough cookies if others are not as prosperous as me).
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