The concept of gratitude has been on my mind. Somewhat late in life I have been truly blessed with a wonderful life in France. My lovely French wife is a television journalist/documentarist. I am voluntarily swept into the wake of her work on projects that have recently taken her to Tahiti, to Africa, and all around France. We have a lovely, healthy daughter who is funny and intelligent. A few years ago I was skiing with her in the Alps. I was a nerdy kid from Chicago. I never touched a ski until my mid-twenties. To be skiing…in the Alps…with my French daughter!!! Well, it was too much to believe. Her existence is a miracle for me and my wife. We have bought a house in Burgundy with a view into a little valley full of grapevines and a Medival castle. I pinch myself to think that I have the life of George Clooney. I have gratitude, gratitude, and more gratitude for my good fortune.
As an old and old fashioned father with an adolescent daughter, it is troubling to sometimes see that she has a lack of gratitude for our wonderful life. I realize that there is something called adolescent psychology, and these moments of disquietude are merely part of a phase in her development. Nonetheless, I can’t help but note them.
When we arrived the power had gone out. There was already a warm fire going and candles were added as the bit of winter light faded out. But after 4 hours without power we had a growing concern about how to cook dinner (the oven is electric), heating the whole house (the boiler has electrical controls) and a lack of batteries for the flashlights. Then, sudden as these events are, the power came back on. We were so grateful that we popped open a bottle of champagne. Amazon.com Gift Card i... Buy New $10.00 (as of 08:25 EST - Details)
My thoughts wandered to the gratitude we should have for living in a society where the electricity is so well delivered (more than likely nuclear-generated in France). Certainly, I recognize there are many very troubling trends in the world that are well documented on LRC. I have none of the optimism of a Steven Pinker, who I have a hard time taking seriously, if only because of his hair. I do what I can to cope with the inherent risks we are all facing (e.g., by holding physical gold). However, it is also important to have gratitude for so much that is still good in this life.
As I was sipping my champagne, these thoughts coalesced on poor Greta Thunberg who is so sad and angry. I could only sense pure hatred in her UN speech as she cited statistics she clearly does not understand. With my daughter in mind, I also recalled Dave Collum’s line in his 2019 Year in Review, “Who in their right mind would turn to teenagers for wisdom on globally important geopolitical topics?”. Greta shows no gratitude whatever for the sheltered first-world life she enjoys. For her, there are no choices to be made, no unintended consequences are possible, no uncertainty in modeling complex physics, economics or political action. Imagine if she ever gained political power.
I have nothing profound to offer in this short essay only an appeal to my fellow libertarians not to lose our gratitude for family, friends, and the blessings of civilization even as they are under grave attack.