Gratitude Helps Us Honor Our History

Gratitude is a response and an attitude

Galen Guengerich’s book, The Way of Gratitude, leads us to an awakening that gratitude encompasses more than an ability to say, “Thank you.” It points out that gratitude is an attitude, an alignment of our focus on the positives in our lives. There are many positives if we are willing to open ourselves to the reality that life is a gift. We are who we are and where we are because of what has come before.

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Some of the chapter headings of his inspirational book tell of the expanse of gratitude:

  • Gratitude Connects Everything
  • Gratitude Emphasizes Relationships
  • Gratitude Requires Reciprocity
  • Gratitude Takes Responsibility
  • Gratitude Creates Beauty
  • Gratitude Maximizes Dignity
  • Gratitude Seeks Possibility

Gratitude is about relationships

Mr. Guengerich quotes the noted philosopher (and one of my favorites), Alfred North Whitehead, as he points to the power of relationships:

Everything becomes whatever it becomes by virtue of how it relates to everything else.

Guengerich continues by saying that:

Whether you are a photon, a person, or even God, your identity over time develops through a process of relating to everything else. … The founding principle of all existence is this: Everything is constituted by relationships. If you could disassemble the material universe into its constituent elementary particles (there are currently twelve: six quarks and six leptons) and pack them tightly together, you’d have a mere handful of material. (It’s hard to believe, but this is literally true.) Everything else is relationships: the experience of these particles as they relate to each other.

We are who we are because of others. We are who we are because of who has come before us and because of our relationship to the history that touches us.

Gratitude is deserved for women’s suffrage

Margaret Talbot’s article, Protest Delivered the Nineteenth Amendment in The New Yorkermagazine, noting:

August 18th marks the centenary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which declares that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” That milestone is sometimes described as having “given” women the right to vote. It wasn’t a gift; it was a hard-won victory on the part of suffragists who’d been agitating for it for more than seventy years, on the basis of their common humanity with men.

Combine these two observations – gratitude and women’s suffrage – and we should note and celebrate this centennial occasion of voting progress. Rather than raising a toast on the 18th, we should be mindful (and grateful) this entire month for the work done by women a century ago. We should celebrate their inclusion into the voting process and the leadership and guidance they now offer.

Do not silence or stifle or ignore votes

Over 137 million voters cast their ballots in the 2016 election. It’s probable that around half of those were cast by women – many for women. Their voting voices are vital to how this nation and this world progresses. They should not be silenced or stifled or ignored.

About half. Can you imagine if about half of the voting citizenry did not participate in our upcoming election? Can you imagine, no matter which side of the political divide you find yourself, if half of the voters were silenced or stifled or ignored?

The paragraph above is a close prediction of what will happen in November of this year. It’s true. About half.

The past 15 presidential elections reveal that 46% of the votes cast were set aside – voters were silenced, stifled, and ignored. It happens every presidential election because of the Winner-Takes-All (WTA) approach used by every state as they convert popular votes into electoral votes.

To be clear: This travesty is NOT due to the Electoral College. No, it is entirely the fault of a contrived add-on every state uses (yes, even Nebraska and Maine). It’s an encumbrance that silences, stifles, and ignores the voters’ voice in every state.

Your voting voice is not guaranteed

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) can be used to remove WTA from the process and make all votes matter. It can be done. There is no need for a U.S. Constitutional amendment nor a requirement for an interstate agreement. Each state can choose to make this voting reality its own.

As you raise a toast to the women suffragettes who worked so hard, gave up so much, a century ago to gain access to the vote, do you know if your vote will matter this fall? Can you relate to their quest for justice and inclusion? Or are you willing to be silenced, stifled, and ignored? Are you willing to let others be, too?

As Margaret Talbot pointed out, regarding accessing the right to vote, “It wasn’t a gift.” If you want your vote to matter, you and your state has to want it to.

Representative John Lewis, in his Op Ed, Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation, in The New York Times reminds us:

Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

May we ever be grateful for the reminder and for those who have come before.

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

One Reply to “Gratitude Helps Us Honor Our History”

  1. On the subject of gratitude, I was reminded that the subject of gratitude was included in a workshop I have led,”Aging as a Spiritual Practice”. In the workshop I referenced the article, “A Grateful Heart, a Giving Mind”. The author is Alice Tallmadge. She had interviewed Christina Karns a scientist at the University of Oregon. Karns says her current research brings together her interests not only in brain plasticity, but in positive psychology, plilosophy, and moral emotions. In the study, participants were divided into two groups–one kept a daily gratitude journal; the other group kept a journal focused on other topics. Her study, using such tools as MRIs and EEGs, found that people who had done gratitude journaling had an increased altruism response in the part of the brain known as the ventromedial prefontal cortex. The control group did not.

    With that said, I believe this research supports Galen Guergerich when she says,”We are who we are because of others”.

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