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May 29, 2018

IN all things

ThessIf I see another self-help book or "be grateful/lean in/choose happy" life coaching messages from persons of privilege wanting so desperately to become our next guru, I'm gonna throw up. Which is why I was gonna pass right by a podcast episode interview with a woman named Diana Butler Bass who has authored a new book titled: Grateful.

But then I listened. And I'm glad I did. Bass is a white woman. She is a Christian. She is a Biblical scholar. She is aware of her privilege AND she is a practitioner of justice-based compassion.

She pointed out that in scripture, there is an important verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, regarding gratitude which reads:
"In all things, give thanks."

The operative word is IN. It doesn't say FOR all things, give thanks. It says IN all, things give thanks. So it's not about being grateful for my house, my car, my family, my clothes, my job, my, my, my, me, me, me, blessings, blessings, blessings, abundance, abundance, abundance, love, love, love, have, have, have, stuff, stuff, stuff, privilege, privilege, privilege, more, more, more.

It's IN. IN sickness, IN health, IN success, IN failure, IN happy, IN sad, IN anger, IN outrage ... IN all of it.

Part of the reason I've been so uneasy about the "be grateful" message (especially from people of privilege) is that there's this tacit qualifier that being grateful FOR involves turning a blind eye to reality (willful ignorance) because there's this thought that IN outrage or anger, gratitude can't be present. In other words ... "La la la ... let's not talk about all those angry black lives matter people ... let's stay positive and be grateful for all our blessings ... oh look, a bird!"

For me, gratitude and activism aren't mutually exclusive. I would argue that modern day social activists and leaders of social justice throughout history, including Jesus the Christ would agree. There was plenty of outrage that he and his followers battled when facing the money-grubbing, heartless, hypocritical Pharisees. And I would guess that if he were here today, he would join Colin Kaepernick to not only take a knee, but flip some fucking tables.

I like to wear a Susan B. Anthony coin as a pendant to keep it close to me as a reminder that IN outrage ... the kind of outrage that fueled her life's work to bring about the 19th Amendment to allow women to vote, there was an ability to practice gratitude and deep, profound fulfillment.

It hurts to be awake.

I think it hurts even more to not be.




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