I'm been ruminating lately, over what kind of line there is between gratitude and selfishness, and whether it's a really thin one at that.
On the other hand, one of the things I try not to think about too much is how better this world would be if we cared more, or if we were less apathetic, or maybe even demonstrated more gratitude.
Now I'm wondering if apathy is always the correct word. Oh, I'm sure that some people are apathetic. But perhaps others are simply trying to survive? For me, there's only so much I can take of the daily atrocities before I can feel myself shutting down, and I have to push the images away if I want to be able to function -- or if I even want to eat an apple without feeling guilty. There are times when I have to read the news like a giant fictional story, so I can process it.
So that's the point in which I have to focus on myself, at the exclusion of all else. How much of that is selfishness, and how much of that is simply so I don't get buried in everything that's around me? There's doing what you can, and then there's surrendering your whole life to this sense of guilt over what I have compared to what a majority of the world lacks.
And often, I take what I have for granted. It's easy to do, as I've never been without it. Gratitude for these things almost takes an extra effort, because I have to stop and make myself think about what it would be like to not have what I do have. However, it's also not an effort, because it can be easy to be grateful even during my daily (well, rather multi-daily. I work with spreadsheets at work a lot, and need breaks) of CNN.
But -- can counting our blessings lead to an inability to let them go, and in fact make us cling to them? Can it make us so focused on what we have that what we have turns into needs, even if it's a certain house, car, clothing, job and so on? Yet at the same time, those "needs" can help me remained balanced, and not getting overwhelmed by all of the suffering in the world.
There's also the sense that I do have these things, and to not be grateful, or even demonstrate a sense of appreciation for them, is wrong. Yet I'd want to do so in a way that doesn't indulge in selfishness.
I feel like I almost have two different topics going on here. I think the connection is that more people than we think are grateful for what they have, and aren't just selfish. However, there's also a part of you that has to take it for granted, or you'll drive yourself crazy in comparing yourself to the less fortunate.