Sunday, November 18, 2007

Gratitude, Appreciation, and Making Distinctions

An interesting discussion at Nancy's site brought to mind an idea that I mentioned in the comments to her post and I thought I'd bring up here too. She was discussing problems that end up dividing homeschool groups. My speculation was that we often get mixed up in our heads between what is ideal (or perceived to be ideal) and what is morally necessary.

There are many things which homeschool families (and other families for that matter) decide is good, or even "the best" for their family and implement with enthusiasm. There is certainly nothing wrong with this. Here are a few real-life examples (these may or may not occur in our own family!):

avoid television entirely
have the girls wear skirts to Mass
have the girls wear skirts all the time
eat organic foods
attend Daily Mass
pray the Rosary daily
avoid government run homeschool programs
eat vegetarian

The problem lies not in making such decisions for our own families, but starting to judge other families who have decided otherwise. There are certainly arguments for and against each idea and some people may choose naively, but this should never be cause for ostracizing them. In fact wouldn't that have the opposite effect of influencing them for the good anyway? These are the sorts of things that can be considered "ideal" by many for various reasons (or - in some cases - even goals to strive towards), but are definitely not "morally necessary". It sure is nice to have the authority of the Church to help us make such distinctions!

For some reason it is often tragedy that puts such things in perspective. Things like this:

A local homeschool family whose young son died in his sleep a few days ago

and this

Cyclone kills over 2,000 in Bangladesh

I sometimes wonder if some of the squabbling comes because we're spoiled. We're spoiled by amazingly good health and low death rates, we're spoiled by a myriad of choices in clothing and educational materials and food and more. But for some reason this tends to lead to fear rather than gratitude and appreciation.

Perhaps because we do have so many choices to make (certainly to the point, at times, of being overwhelmed by decision-making), we start taking ourselves too seriously and feel like it all depends on us.

This Thanksgiving week is a good time to foster gratitude and appreciation in ourselves which, really, is a good antitode to taking ourselves too seriously and neglecting the appreciation we owe to God and the help we owe to those less fortunate than ourselves. (I've also found reading pretty much anything by G.K. Chesterton as a perfect antidote to taking myself too seriously.)

And so, today I am grateful for these things:

-Being able to worship freely, openly and without fear.

-Being able to choose homeschooling for my children.

-For the children God has given me.

-Food, shelter and clothing in abundance.

-Good friends, good books, good movies and many happy times.


helene said...

SUPER post and a much needed reminder for all homeschoolers!

clairity said...

Thanks for these important thoughts and the reminder to foster gratitude. I can find lots of applications even outside homeschooling concerns.

The Bookworm said...

Well said!

Kristen Laurence said...

Yes, very well said, Alicia. Thank you!

Karen E. said...

Beautiful! I've been having so many similar thoughts lately but they haven't come together in such a perfect and eloquent post. Thank you.

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

This must be on alot of our minds.

I wrote a post on it Oct 28 because I grew weary of the whole Halloween or no Halloween debate.

Here's the link if you're interested:

Thank you for your post!