06 September 2013

On Gratitude

A much more personal subject than most.

Yes, my life has problems, but for the vast majority of people on the planet those problems would be blessings. I had a back injury that nearly killed me and an eye disease that may or may not end up destroying my left eye, but I have been blessed with so much: my time spent with family and friends, the help I have gotten with being out of work for several months, and the incredible joy I get from my writing. I also have the many regular blessings that come from modern Western life. I have luxuries that are unknown to billions of people, including the great kings and emperors of antiquity. I live in greater luxury than Alexander the Great, Marcus Aurelius, Charlemagne, Akbar, or Louis XIV. They may have had more money and power but I have sanitation, hot and cold running water, flush toilets, air conditioning and heating, gas stoves, telephones, the Internet, the automobile, ice any time I want it, fresh fruit all year round, antibiotics, electricity, moulded plastic, the printing press, and any of a number of things they could never have imagined.

A lot of people just don't care. A lot of people's egos get in the way of their caring for other people. They want to complain about their petty shit and when some enlightened soul tells them about the plethora of genuinely unfortunate people in the world they scowl "I don't care about other people, what about me!" I want to strangle these people and shout "what makes you so much better than them?" You, whose curses would be their blessings and the host of fictitious post 1950s Western diseases. I, who have so much laid before me, what right do I have to complain when there are people really suffering, going days without eating, dying of diseases like cancer and malaria, born blind or limbless, having to bury half their kids before the age of five, endless warfare, and vast festering slums and refugee camps that stretch for miles in all directions? Who am I to complain when I am given so much?

I am thankful, immensely thankful, for all I have been given. I thank God every night, even for the bad things I have to face. My hardships have really shaped me, like the great pressure needed to make a diamond. Greatness is never easy; if it were it wouldn't be worth it. Problem of evil? What problem? What would be the point of life if we were handed everything on a silver platter?

First Principles Anecdota

One of the hardest things for people to grasp seems to be first principles. I have such a great volume of notes on the subject it would be a waste not to make a video series about it.