Thanksgiving -- Gratitude
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Issue Date:  November 23, 2007

-- Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Descartes doesn't cut it anymore

Gratitude runs counter to the perpetual dissatisfaction drilled into us by our consumer culture. Advertising is all aimed at convincing us we have needs that have not been met, that we are inadequate.

Mary Jo Leddy, author of Radical Gratitude (Orbis), now in its 10th printing, lives and works with refugees in the Romero House Community in Toronto. In her book, she argues that fundamental gratitude, an appreciation for what we already have been given and who we are as loving and loved persons, is the key to true liberation and sets our economic, political and social relationships on their head.

By coming to appreciate the earthly things around us that give true joy, we open the path to greater authenticity and discover what is most real in ourselves. “I believe that at least once in our lives, perhaps once in a year, maybe even once a day, we are recalled to our true selves and to the meaning of our lives. Such revelations are given to each of us in generous recurrence. These invitations can be missed, denied, accepted or rejected -- life impresses but it does not impose.”

When gratitude liberates us, she explains, it is a multifaceted liberation, which begins in one way or another by saying, “It’s enough” or “I’m good enough.”

“And then if you begin to think about the implications of that, you can see that it leads to a type of prayer, a type of worship, an economics in which every person is valued, a kind of politics of abundance rather than a politics of scarcity.”

Leddy says a student of hers summed up radical gratitude better than she ever has. The student told her the whole modern attitude is “I think, therefore, I am.” What radical gratitude contrarily says is, “I am, therefore, I am grateful.”

-- Thomas C. Fox

National Catholic Reporter, November 23, 2007

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