Why is it so much easier for people to complain about America, to “blame America first,” than it is to look at all the good and uplifting things that have happened politically, economically, materially and even spiritually in this “Land that’s made for you and me”?

By the Rev. C. Thomas Elkins

Many of us have heard from a variety of sources, the term “An Attitude of Gratitude!” Rev. Robert Schuller of Southern California was one of those sources. But the question today is, “Have we responded to that phrase?”

Are we really grateful that we were born in America? Do we cherish our right of free speech? How do we really feel about our freedom to worship as we please, and are we willing to defend it in any way that we can? Do we fully appreciate the freedom that we have to vote as we feel led?”

We so often take so much for granted until we see those who agree with us, whether Christian or those of other beliefs and philosophies, persecuted and killed because someone else does not believe as they do.

Gratitude can be such a powerful influence in our society, in our churches, our businesses, our schools, in our politics and in our own personal lives!

When is the last time you thanked your neighbor for keeping his property so clean, or when did you compliment your boss for creating a positive atmosphere for your business operations? How many times have you honored your children’s teachers by praising their efforts to effectively teach your children?

Why is it so often true that people feel more comfortable with negative complaints? There seems to be something more exciting about the negative than expressing positive gratitude and thanksgiving! For instance, why is it so much easier for people to complain about America, to “blame America first,” than it is to look at all the good and uplifting things that have happened politically, economically, materially and even spiritually in this “Land that’s made for you and me”?

Let me ask you, do you stop and thank your representative when they accomplish something worthwhile, or is it easier just to vote against them at election time when they do something wrong?

Have you ever thanked the police officer that just gave you a ticket? Few people do. He may have just saved your life by warning you of your careless or reckless driving habits. Do you thank your doctor when he tells you to lose weight, or slow down? I doubt it. Or do you thank your minister or friend who cautions you about your lifestyle or your bad habits, and points you to the transforming power of grace? Probably not. It’s much easier to accuse them of a “phobia” or just being nosy or prejudiced! (He’s done quit preachin’ and gone to meddlin’ now!)

Rev. Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral spoke of an “Attitude of Gratitude!” This attitude would solve so many of life’s problems, in every aspect of life if it were just applied and lived!

In our present-day society with all of its problems, wouldn’t it be great if everyone began to look at the good that has happened in the last few decades; the end of the Cold War; the successes of the Civil Rights Movement, among others, with all the dramatic legal and societal changes that have occurred. A few words of thanks and gratitude would surely bind up a lot of wounds!

Dale Carnegie stated, “If only people who worry about their liabilities would think about the riches they do posses, they would stop worrying. Would you sell both your eyes for a million dollars ... or your two legs ... or your hands ... or your hearing? Add up what you do have, and you’ll find that you wouldn’t sell them for all the gold in the world. The best things in life are yours, if you learn to appreciate them. So stop worrying (and complaining) and start living!”

May God grant us the grace to express our gratitude, our joy and thankfulness for God’s blessings that He has already given us; each new day, every simple gift, including the gift of life; all our friends and loved ones and even our daily bread. May we exemplify an “Attitude of Gratitude,” a joyful life of praise in a spirit of thanks for what he has done and for what we know that he will do in the future if we will just open our eyes to see and then express our gratitude.

Rev. C. Thomas Elkins is pastor of Ocean Park United Methodist Church.

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