The woman I’m in love with is out of town for a few days (weeks, months, ah!), and in her stead she has left me with a stack of old New Yorkers and Harpers. The other day, a lazy Sunday after a boisterous walk in the park with my dog, I started flipping though an old Harpers and fell into a deep depression. Nothing but tragedy, Bush’s budget, the War, young American peace workers being crushed by bulldozers by the Israeli army. And here I was, sitting in my apartment, listening to music, petting my dog, while the sun was shining outside, I have a fridge full of food, and when I go to work tomorrow no one will try to shoot at me with a rocket launcher.
So I began to feel a little guilty about that. I began to feel like I no longer had the right to enjoy all these things while so many people are suffering so harshly on other parts of the world. And part of my wanted to cheer up that other, darker, brooding side, by saying that I should feel grateful, count my blessings and all that. My darker side, of course, said that’s a crock. That’s what the propagandists want us to think. Thank God we live in this country where we can enjoy the sunshine and free speech and all that. The silent debate in my head raged on.
Eventually some concessions were made, the opposing sides reached a compromise, and I came to this very middle-path realization. Ought we count our blessings, ought we be thankful for what we do have? Yes. Yes, we must. I do believe that it is a moral imperative. We must accept that we do live in a certain type of (comparative) luxury and be thankful for the roofs and the dogs and food and sunshine. Secondly, we must not take any of these things for granted. We must clearly see that this luxury is fleeting, that someday the roofs will develop holes, the dogs will die, the food will rot, and the sun will set. And because none of them is permanent, we appreciate them all the more. Next, once we see how fleeting and precious these things are, we are more apt to let them go. And by letting them go, we can share them with other people, with people who do not have food and dogs. And the more we share all the luxuries we have, the less Harpers will have to write about. Because no one really wants to read this happy, hippy crap anyway.
But that doesn’t make it any less true.