Feeling "Grateful"
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07-09-2015, 06:05 PM
Feeling "Grateful"
Thought dump:

Today on United States Labor Day, I reflect upon the fact that I have a great job. I possess solid skills that have allowed me to earn a fine living in an inexpensive, livable Midwestern city. I'm very fortunate. I'm glad for that. I also feel I should help the less fortunate, because I've been blessed with much, and they haven't. Aren't these unfortunate theistic tendencies? Perhaps not.

Let's suppose a divine creator made everyone and everything, and gave me this good fortune. Should I feel thankful towards this creator? Well, he/she/it might have given these skills and riches to me because I was more righteous than other people, in which case there is no reason for gratitude. I earned them and deserved them. If it wasn't because I deserved it and it was still his divine will, it was completely arbitrary, in which case gratitude is pointless. You might as well thank the state for winning the lottery. And why should I be glad the supreme being gave something to me when someone else suffers? Even if he had some great purpose in mind, like giving me talents so I could help the needy, the needy wouldn't have been needy in the first place had he just been more equitable with regards to talent/riches distribution.

But if we live in a fundamentally random, natural universe, we CAN be thankful that we have what we have, and we CAN be driven with a mission to see that the less fortunate have more. My impulse to gratitude, even if there isn't a recipient for our gratitude, is an atheistic one, not a theistic one.
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07-09-2015, 06:07 PM
RE: Feeling "Grateful"
Thank you. Big Grin

And welcome to TTA.

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07-09-2015, 06:08 PM
RE: Feeling "Grateful"
I don't see anything wrong with being grateful.

It shows you appreciate what you have. It doesn't matter if it was given to you or earned by you. You appreciate it which means you probably won't take what you have for granted.

And welcome.

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF

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07-09-2015, 06:15 PM
RE: Feeling "Grateful"
Thank you, DLJ!

It's good to have a place to talk.
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07-09-2015, 06:18 PM
RE: Feeling "Grateful"
(07-09-2015 06:08 PM)Anjele Wrote:  I don't see anything wrong with being grateful.

It shows you appreciate what you have. It doesn't matter if it was given to you or earned by you. You appreciate it which means you probably won't take what you have for granted.

And welcome.

Thank you. I express to my family "I thank God every day I'm able to support myself and my wife while she goes through school." When what I really mean is I'm thankful I naturally have these gifts, and the pure dumb luck to stumble down this career path. But the former goes over better with family. And the emotional content of the statements is identical.
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07-09-2015, 06:55 PM
RE: Feeling "Grateful"
If there is a divine creator who chose me to be one of the very very few people in the world to have health care and potable water and plenty of food and all the rest of the benefits of a middle-class life, then I'm damn grateful to him for not making me a starved, parasite-ridden, child in India. He's a shit-bag for treating everyone else the way he has, but I'm grateful not to be in their shoes.

I'm not sure gratitude has any meaning if not directed toward some sort of benefactor.

I do give money to charitable causes because I get a warm, smug feeling of self-satisfaction out of it. I give money to panhandlers because I like bums. I've worked in a homeless shelter, and I like these guys. And I sometimes give money to friends because they're my friends. I'm not sure I'd relate any of that to gratitude.

"El mar se mide por olas,
el cielo por alas,
nosotros por lágrimas."
-- Jaime Sabines
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07-09-2015, 07:20 PM
RE: Feeling "Grateful"
(07-09-2015 06:55 PM)daniel1948 Wrote:  If there is a divine creator who chose me to be one of the very very few people in the world to have health care and potable water and plenty of food and all the rest of the benefits of a middle-class life, then I'm damn grateful to him for not making me a starved, parasite-ridden, child in India. He's a shit-bag for treating everyone else the way he has, but I'm grateful not to be in their shoes.

I'm not sure gratitude has any meaning if not directed toward some sort of benefactor.

I do give money to charitable causes because I get a warm, smug feeling of self-satisfaction out of it. I give money to panhandlers because I like bums. I've worked in a homeless shelter, and I like these guys. And I sometimes give money to friends because they're my friends. I'm not sure I'd relate any of that to gratitude.

I agree that we probably can't have "intransitive gratitude" for lack of a better term. The universe has no agency. Fortune isn't really a thing, and feeling "fortunate" is simply a way trying to make sense of why good things happen to some people and not to others.

I think whether you take a naturalistic outlook or not, gladness that something good happened to you results in a desire to make something good happen to someone else. The good that happened to you may not have resulted from any intelligent agency, but you ARE an intelligent agent. I hesitate to use the term "balance," because I don't like the concept of karma, but rather I like the idea that a random good should be the impetus for an intentional one.
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07-09-2015, 07:24 PM
RE: Feeling "Grateful"
Thanks to America for the birth and evolution of this instrument.

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