View from the Pew
Giving thanks should be daily exercise
"Love is never having to say you're sorry." That line from the 1970 movie "Love Story" was quoted for years as if it were gospel, and parodied in comic routines, ad campaigns and bumper stickers.
It was one of the stupidest concepts ever put forth in an industry that does stupid often. It was a totally warped perspective about love.
If you love someone, you'd know what would hurt that person. Or you'd want to invest enough thought and time in the relationship to try to figure it out. You'd want to say "I'm sorry" -- and more -- if that's what would soothe or mend a loved one who's hurting.
Nowadays the warped philosophy seems to be never having to say "Thank you." Is it because admitting appreciation for someone else undermines the self-image? Too cool, too powerful, too aloof? If you get started doing it, will it be a lifetime commitment to keep interacting with others? Would we all start expecting civility, even from the "others" we shun in this post-aloha era?
Why should you say thanks if it's a waitress or a clerk or a janitor doing the job they're paid for? Never mind that theirs is a long grinding day's work in a service that made your day smoother.
Why should you, if it's just your parent or your kid or your spouse? If it's all in the family routine, why say thanks? They know their birthday gift was a perfect choice for you. Why keep talking about it? They bailed you out in the nick of time again. Isn't that what parents are supposed to do? The feast on the table next Thursday -- isn't it your inalienable right to eat well? When everyone leans back to watch the games after the feast, isn't it someone else's destiny to clean up? Some people do know there are ways to say "Thank you" beyond words.
A person in a position of authority can get so accustomed to the operation he heads that he never acknowledges the small gears that make it work like a fine-tuned clock. If you thank the workers, what will they expect next?
A visiting minister took time to give thanks to the ushers, the musicians and other participants at a church service I attended last Sunday. He even thanked the parents who made the effort to bring their small children. It was a rare acknowledgment in a congregation where the pastor has a chronic case of "I" trouble, seldom sharing credit with the volunteers who really make it a church. The simple thanks turned the service into a beaming love feast -- and cranked up the musical finale to a concert quality high note. It could have been titled "Love Is Always Wanting to Say Thank You."
Thanksgiving will, of course, be the theme in services tomorrow and next week as people of many faith persuasions follow the example of the Pilgrims. But a very small percentage of the island population will be there, what with cooking and football and all. Besides, won't it be superfluous, listing all the things we got and the things we survived? The Supreme Being, however we name him/her/it, already knows. So is a thank-you really necessary? Will it even work, if we've long since given up saying "I'm sorry"?