October 2021 Archives

          Being a parent in a consumer society can be tough. There is always the next new fad, the latest version of the latest video game, and the bigger and better outdoor gadgets with bells and whistles. This of course also is true for any of us: we are constantly being sold things we do not really need.

          I have a Buddhist teacher - Thich Nhat Hanh - who often reminds me that "there are already sufficient conditions present for your happiness." As I have explored this statement for myself, I have come to realize that many of the ills we face - like racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, elitism, and militarism - come from the same root: a need to protect what's mine against an "other" we fear and find ways to get more for oursselves. Despite our faith practices that promote charity, compassion, social justice, and simplicity, we still get caught in the "more" cycle of consumption and greed.

          Since this is November - the month of Thanksgiving - I thought I would return to the theme of gratitude and remind us of ways in which we can teach our children how to be grateful for what they have rather than greedy for what they want. Here are some ideas:

·        Have everyone in the family create a gratitude list: Aim for five things each and read the list aloud at dinner each night. Maybe have a white board in the kitchen and have each family member write one thing they are grateful for each morning before leaving the house.

·        Speaking of dinner - do you say grace?: Do you acknowledge the gift of a shared meal in a world (and even in our local community) where food is scarce?

·        Talk about the difference between "need" and "want" as a family: If resources are low, be sure to take care of needs and relieve the stress of financial struggle to some degree by not indulging your wants. If resources are ample, decide how you can support others in their life struggles with some of your disposable income.

·        Think globally about consumption: People in the USA comprise 5% of the world's population and consume 25% of the world's resources. Sustainability is essential now if we are to promote peace in the world and a unified effort toward addressing climate change. Make some decisions as a family about your consumption and change your family's footprint on the global economy.

·        Nurture yourself with things you love to do and have your children do the same: Make a list of ten things you love to do. Have your child do the same. Choose the activities that require no money or special arrangements (like expensive equipment or travel to exotic places)  - maybe simple activities like reading aloud together, having a catch, taking a walk, or dancing in the living room - and agree to try to do one of these each day. We need to take good care of ourselves so that we can have energy and compassion for others.

·        Find role models from your faith community that are examples of a grateful and compassionate life: Everyone needs role models, and we thrive on the stories of gratitude, compassion, and social justice. Look for children's books about these folks and make them part of your family's shared discussions.


I close by giving thanks to the indigenous Siwanoy people, on whose land I live here on City Island: may your family's Thanksgiving celebration include an awareness of where this tradition came from originally.


  • 11/11/13 entry/
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  • 9-14-10 entry
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This page is an archive of entries from October 2021 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2021 is the previous archive.

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