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Another Grateful Moment

Grateful Moment- GC Myers 2014

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Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

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I thought I would rerun the post below about gratitude that ran last year on the day before Thanksgiving.

I am a firm believer in the words of Cicero above, feeling that, if it is fully embraced, gratitude permeates everything we do in a positive way.

I also believe that nobody achieves anything solely on their own, that everyone owes someone something for getting them where they are. Someone along the way taught them something, pointed them in a direction or opened a door that greatly helped them move along. 

As much I would like to think I have done everything on my own, even the small amount of success I have achieved is the result of a lot of help and encouragement from hosts of people. Without them I am nothing.

A sense of gratitude makes everything it touches better. And as I wrote below, a lack of gratitude debases everything. Take a look:

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It’s Gratitude Week here on RedTreeTimes. It’s kind of like Shark Week without the carnage. Or sharks.

Well, there is a little carnage but I can guarantee there are no sharks.

For today’s installment, the great Roman orator Cicero certainly has it right. When you think of the great virtues– honor, courage, loyalty, honesty, compassion, respect, and grace along with so many others– you can easily place gratitude as a contributing factor to each. These virtues are often just gratitude set in motion.

If gratitude is not the parent of all virtues, it is at least a conjoined twin.

I am not harping on gratitude now just because it is the week of Thanksgiving. No, it has become painfully obvious that there is a lack of gratitude, and by extension, the absence of accompanying virtues, being shown by many of our public leaders. This includes one person in particular.

Simply put, this lack of gratitude trickles down ( much more so than any tax cuts!) from the top to the general population. As a result, we end up with ugly attitudes permeating our daily life.

Gratitude transforms into a sense of entitlement

Humility becomes boastful self-aggrandizement.

Respect is replaced by insult and denigration.

Courage becomes cowardice.

Loyalty becomes a temporary transaction where one’s loyalty is given only for as long as the other person remains useful.

Empathy devolves into a mocking of the shortcomings and weaknesses of others.

Responsibility is replaced by a need to place blame on others.

Honor becomes disgrace.

Trust turns to deep skepticism.

Grace transforms into insolence and coarseness.

And honesty?

Honesty has turned into a sort of mythological creature, like the Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster– seldom seen and so shocking that when it finally shows itself, we don’t believe what we are seeing with our own eyes. Dishonesty becomes the accepted norm and we lose the ability — or even the will–to recognize the lies from the truth.

We become a nation of liars, a land without virtue or honor that can no longer be trusted.

It doesn’t have to continue in this way. We are a nation based for centuries on its virtues, always moving towards doing what is right, no matter the cost. We can reclaim that. We can be a country of virtue.

It all starts with simple gratitude.

Be thankful for all that you have. Express it in your words and, more importantly, in your actions.

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Grateful Moment

Grateful Moment- GC Myers 2014

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Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

++++++++++++++++

It’s Gratitude Week here on RedTreeTimes. It’s kind of like Shark Week without the carnage. Or sharks.

Well, there is a little carnage but I can guarantee there are no sharks.

For today’s installment, the great Roman orator Cicero certainly has it right. When you think of the great virtues– honor, courage, loyalty, honesty, compassion, respect, and grace along with so many others– you can easily place gratitude as a contributing factor to each. These virtues are often just gratitude set in motion.

If gratitude is not the parent of all virtues, it is at least a conjoined twin.

I am harping on gratitude this week not just because it is Thanksgiving tomorrow. No, it has become painfully obvious that there is a lack of gratitude, and by extension, the absence of accompanying virtues, being shown by many of our public leaders. This includes one person in particular.

Simply put, this lack of gratitude trickles down ( much more so than any tax cuts!) to the general population and we end up with ugly attitudes permeating our daily life.

Gratitude becomes boastful self-aggrandizement.

Respect is replaced by disrespect and denigration.

Courage becomes cowardice.

Loyalty becomes a transaction where one’s loyalty is given only for as long as the other person remains useful.

Empathy devolves into a mocking of the shortcomings and weaknesses of others.

Responsibility and honor becomes irresponsibility and dishonor. Trust turns to distrust.

Graces becomes disgrace.

And honesty?

Honesty has turned into a sort of mythological creature, like the Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster– seldom seen and shocking when it finally shows itself. Dishonesty becomes the accepted norm and we lose the ability to recognize the lies from the truth.

We become a nation of liars, a land without virtue or honor.

It doesn’t have to continue in this way. We are a nation based for centuries on its virtues, always moving towards doing what is right, no matter the cost. We can reclaim that. We can be a country of virtue.

It all starts with simple gratitude.

Be thankful for all that you have. Express it in your words and, more importantly, in your actions.

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“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” 

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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I thought for this installment of Gratitude Week, I would start with the quote above from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The name might be familiar. I featured him a post last year, On Stupidity, that has been pretty popular, consistently getting quite a few views each week. He was the German pastor who spoke out against the Nazi regime throughout the 1930’s, later being sent to a concentration camp before being sent to his death on the gallows in the last days of the war. On Stupidity described the sort of blatant ignorance that led to the rise of the Nazis and seems to exist here today in forms. Bonhoeffer also coined the term Cheap Grace which also seems abundant these days. It’s a post that is worth another look.

But the words above from Bonhoeffer offer a different and positive thought, that we receive much more from this life than we ever give in return. Understanding this concept and living with a sense of gratitude gives our lives a richness beyond material wealth.

In that vein, I want to point out that there is a political/economic philosophy that has been out there for some time now, one that has led to the increasing disparity of wealth between those at the top and those in the middle and at the bottom.

It basically labels people as Makers and Takers. In the eyes of those at the top, the Makers are those who control the wealth and means of production and the Takers are everyone else. They believe that no matter how integral a person might be in assisting the Makers amass their wealth, they are only there to take from them.

They see the world as a zero sum scenario where there are only winners and losers. Those at the top are winners and anyone below them are losers. The loser Takers are tools at best to be used in their view. When their usefulness has went away, they are nothing more than dead weight.

It’s a distressing idea, one that I would love to say couldn’t exist, but there is ample evidence to support that this belief is flourishing.

I would like to offer a counter-thought.

In my eyes I see the Makers described above as the real Takers. By doing all they can to gain and gain at the expense of others, they extract joy and compassion from this world, along with dignity,respect, and honor. They take away from the humanity of all people with an extreme selfishness that creates a world of solely winners and losers.

But in my worldview anyone can be a Maker because wealth is not the only factor that makes for a better world. Anyone who acts to better people’s lives is a Maker. Those who inspire, those who teach, those who heal, those who put their own lives on the line to rescue those in harm’s way, those who come to the aid of others in need, those who give what little they have until it strains their budgets, those who volunteer, those who work to least the least among us a voice, those who stand up to power so that our air is clean and our food safe, along with so many others—these are the people who make this world a better place, who bring a sense of dignity to all people.

These are the true Makers. These are the people who create the richness of this world.

Please understand that what you have in this world is the result of being assisted by others. You may be the most fabulous, self-sufficient being in the universe but you have done nothing absolutely on your own.

We are the beneficiaries of the work and care of others.

Let us acknowledge that and be grateful. Be a Maker.

 

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GC Myers- SatisfiedIt was twenty years ago this month that I had the accident that started my painting career.  When I began painting at that time, it was not with some long-range goal of becoming a professional artist or even with the thought that anything would come from it.  I was simply looking for a creative  outlet for emotion that was roiling within.  I never had real expectations and didn’t even begin to form any until a year or so after I started.  I had no idea where this would take me nor did I have a notion that my work would take any sort of form that might reach out to people.  It was simply an urge that begged to be fulfilled at the time.

As the years went by, expectations and hopes did begin to take form.  I began to expect to sell my work and to have people take somewhat of an interest in it. I hoped that people would take my work as seriously as I did and that people would look deeper into it.

But the thing that has surprised me over the years is something  that I never expected or had even thought of beforehand.  That is the trust that many people place in me when they confide to me their feelings about the work, often sharing deeply personal stories about their lives.  I have heard many personal stories, some sad and some triumphant,  in the past two decades and seen many teary eyes as they relate their stories.  Each time I am surprised and touched at how open and honest these folks are in sharing the details of their lives with me.  Surprised may not be the right word here.  It was surprising at first  but then  turned to humbling in that I often didn’t feel worthy to be so privileged.  Now, it is still a bit surprising, a lot humbling and totally an honor to be let in on such private emotions.  It is the most gratifying and satisfying aspect of my experience as an artist over the past two decades, far exceeding financial rewards and public acclaim.  It is perhaps the most inspirational element that I carry with me into the studio each morning.

I had no idea that such a thing might happen when I started and still struggle to figure out how it has happened within the framework of my paintings.  It remains a mystery but a most satisfying one.  Thanks for such an unexpected gift.

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The painting shown here is fittingly titled Satisfied and is a 24″ by 14″ piece on paper and is currently at the Principle Gallery.

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Gratitude

harlequin1  

    “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

                         -Albert Schweizer

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