Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I believe in gratitude

I just finished reading The Kite Runner. Great book. It shows a part of the world I know nothing about, a place I've even managed to ignore through most of the post-9/11 news. Afghanistan. There are lots of scenes of horrifying inequity in the book--public executions, crippled servants, rape, violent oppression by religious fanatics.... It reminds me that my own interesting conflict is not really all that bad in the grand scheme of things.

There are a whole lot of good things going on in my life. Even apart from family and career goals, my life is really really good. I'm healthy. I never have pain. (Well, except when I read the recent comments on GayMormon's blog.) I'm capable enough to do exactly what I want to do throughout the day.

I should ask, why me? Sometimes I'm pretty pissed about the whole gay thing. I don't want to be gay. But really, that aside, I have the charmed life. And I'll bet anyone who has the means to be reading this could say the same for themselves. Why us? There are billions of people who would love to be in our position.

I can't stand "entitlement" arguments. The word itself is just repulsive to me. And in the context of religion and homosexuality, there are a lot of people thinking they are entitled to something. Entitlement is the antithesis of gratitude. After all, if you are entitled to something, it was your right and no special concession worthy of thankfulness was involved.

We're not entitled to love. We're not entitled to sex. We're not entitled to life. They're all gifts from God. And that's why even when it's hard, I try to be grateful for the things I have rather than curse God for the things I don't.

12 comments:

Another Other said...

Ummm, perfectly expressed. I think it cuts to the core of the issue. If you feel entitled you do what YOU want. If you feel grateful, you do what GOD wants, despite any negative byproducts (which, if you're really doing what God wants for the right reasons, end up not being negative at all). Now, if it was just ubiquitously more clear and easier to know what God's will is...

Chris (hurricane) said...

Now, if it was just ubiquitously more clear and easier to know what God's will is...

There's the rub.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Excellent post. Puts things in perspective. Thanks for reminding me that in the grand scheme of things, my problems really aren't all that bad.

Dave Walter said...

And in the context of religion and homosexuality, there are a lot of people thinking they are entitled to something.

Are you referring to people inside or outside a religion? My own view is that I'm not entitled to have my beliefs validated by any organized religion. But I am entitled not to have an organized religion's beliefs interfere with my secular enjoyment of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, etc.

-L- said...

Case in point, DW. You aren't entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You're just lucky enough to live in a society that values them. You should go live in Afghanistan for a while to work up some gratitude. :)

I didn't want to specify, but I'll give you an example of entitlement in homosexuality and religion. "God made me this way, so I'm entitled to live and act true to it." Nope. You can live and act true to it because of God's beneficence despite that he has specifically forbidden it. Gratitude is the appropriate attitude, not entitlement.

And for those like you, DW, who aren't living the conflict of being gay and genuinely believing a religion, gratitude is still an admirable personal philosophy when pitted against unsupportable arguments of entitlement.

Elbow said...

Those are some very existential words. I’m not sure I know how to be grateful right now, but I have had the same feelings that you expressed here.

Last night I was thinking about prayer, and I feel like all I do is ask for things. I guess that’s what prayer is for, but I want to start to just thank Him instead of asking.

Chris (hurricane) said...

You can live and act true to it because of God's beneficence despite that he has specifically forbidden it.

L, I know you think God has specifically forbidden it, and I respect that you have chosen to live your life accordingly. But you realize that not all of us think that he has in fact forbidden "it," and we are choosing to live our lives accordingly.

And for those like you, DW, who aren't living the conflict of being gay and genuinely believing a religion, gratitude is still an admirable personal philosophy when pitted against unsupportable arguments of entitlement.

L, I'm going to call you on your sanctimony here. It is possible to believe in "a religion" and be gay without feeling conflict. It may not be possible to live your religion without that conflict, but there are plenty of religious gay people who are happy and not conflicted about their sexuality. And just as gratitude is a admirable quality, so to is being willing to recognize the genuine faith lived by others who do not subscribe to your belief system.

-L- said...

not all of us think that he has in fact forbidden "it,"

Absolutely. No reminder necessary. I just find it somewhat burdensome to always be specifically putting in qualifiers validating a wide range of acceptable beliefs. This is one reason I didn't want to provide specific examples. The one expressed was only my own (or my take on Mormonism). The point about gratitude for God's beneficence and the repugnance of entitlement holds without the second half of the statement. It just may seem MORE beneficent given the second half. Give me a charitable read, hurc!

Chris (hurricane) said...

L, you know I love you--you give and take with the best of them.

Gay Mormon said...

Amen. I love this post! Beautifully put.

DCTwistedLife said...

**ok this comment has nothing to do with your post...rather with the comment you left on my blog...**

Anyway, I have no advice for you, but thought it was interesting how similar our experiences were. I ended up marrying her. [I assume this has NO significance in your case, just an FYI!]

If this is an omen for my own life, I am going to jump out of my window...lol...thankfully she could never marry me anyways, because she comes from a pretty strict muslim family...so she will marry a muslim...

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at people who, when times are confusing and when thier own identity is sometimes up for grabs (concerning the homosexuality blog), can still find the charity to help others and to put things into perspective, and can give others so much wisdom. The idea that we are not entitled to anything, but to help others and serve, is when we become truly greatful for what we do have, and which helps us understand the way God treats us. If anything God is entitled to our worship - and yet nothing could motivate Him less (to demand us to worship him, as we might demand a sweet 16 party, or to be heterosexual, or be able to have our dreams fulfilled in this life). I wish whoever wrote the first comment all the best, and pray that he/she keeps the perspective and wisdom. May God truly bless you for what you are and what you do. I cannot express how much I feel the spirit in writing this, and thinking about the truths behind it.

Thanks,

Jared