By: Mitchell Lai ’18
During the time off this past week, we all had the opportunity to take a brief respite from school and spend some meaningful time with friends and family. The mountains of mashed potatoes, turkey, and stuffing served as gentle reminders of our many blessings and privileges. These past several days were a great opportunity to give thanks.
But it was also far too convenient of an opportunity to give thanks.
Of course, it is easy to be grateful when all that we have to be grateful for — friends, family, food, laughter, and joy — is right in front of us. However, a true metric of one’s gratitude occurs when it is not so easy; true gratitude occurs when someone recognizes his or her blessings, even when it can be difficult.
Gratitude is taking the time to remember how lucky we are to be at Bellarmine, even when we are slammed with research papers and final exams. Especially when 264 million children do not have access to education, this is not something we should take for granted. Bombing that math test or staying up until 3 a.m. finishing that paper… really sucks, but our education is a privilege that should be cherished.
Gratitude is taking the time to remember how lucky we are to have food, even when the cafeteria runs out of chicken tenders. 16 million children in the United States go hungry on a regular basis, while we stand in line for the “best of the best.”
Gratitude is taking the time to remember your family, even during rough patches in your relationships. My parents and I do not always agree on everything, and we sometimes struggle to reconcile our differences. We have had our fair share of fights, and I have said things that I regret. But at the end of the day, I am grateful to have a family that will always support me, no matter what. Remember to thank the people who have sacrificed so much, so that you and I can be where we are today.
Gratitude is taking the time to remember how lucky we are to live in a free democratic country, even when political disputes divide our nation. We have had many challenging discussions over the past year. From the last presidential election to the justice summit on race, the current political climate — even at Bellarmine — is highly combustible. However, think of how lucky we are to live in a country that will not persecute someone for his or her political or religious beliefs.
Gratitude is not something that should be turned on and off at convenience. It is something that must be practiced and lived. As President John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
In the final stretch of the semester, I challenge you to continue reflecting on what you “bring to the table” — the theme of our prayer service last Tuesday. Remember the people that make your life possible, and give back. Whether you choose to do community service or just say a simple “thank you,” we must live out our gratitude every single day.