Why did almost everyone almost always “give thanks” at every meal, and why did it change so that now very few people “give thanks” at meals?
Earlier I wrote about Root Cause Analysis. It involved tracing a defect back to its real source, which might look like this: discovered error > investigate code > interaction of multiple code areas > who wrote the code > communication failure between coders in multiple areas of code > cause of communication failure > etc.
Today I’ll trace the root cause of Thankfulness. That will tell us what’s missing when there is a lack of thankfulness. It is really very simple.
Let’s say a family a hundred years ago sat down to eat a simple meal. On the table there is a platter of chicken, a dish of green beans, and a bowl of biscuits.
The chicken had to be fed each day for years, its coup or area where it lived maintained for years. Someone had to grab it, cut its head off, be able to handle that kind of work, and clean up the mess afterwards. Someone had to pluck out all the feathers, and clean out all the unusable parts, or the parts to be stored and used later for another purpose. Then it is ready to start basting and seasoning before cooking (basting probably includes butter which is a dairy product which is another long process).
Green beans had to be planted a couple of months before harvesting. You had to know the right place to plant them, such as in a fully exposed sunny area, and to plant them after the ground is not too cold, in the right type of soil, keeping rows the right distance apart, not to let them go too long to prevent getting too tough, how to protect against types of green-bean pests in your region. You have to do the work of harvesting, preparing, and cooking.
Biscuits were a long time coming. First you need a wheat field. Even if you didn’t have the wheat field, your neighbor or someone not too far away had it. You might have helped work in it when you were growing up. The planting and harvesting of wheat is a lot of work. So is milling it (pulverizing, separating out the parts to use for flour). All of this requires expensive equipment. Making biscuits from the right kind of flour (self-rising), is also a lot of work.
Chicken, green beans, biscuits, all needed to be cooked or baked, which was done in a wood-burning stove. You had to spend many hours chopping wood to supply the needs of daily cooking in a wood-burning stove (not to mention heating the house).
If you grew up doing any of this work, being exposed to where food comes from, how much work it took to prepare, you will be much more Thankful when you see it in those dishes on the dinner table.
If you grew up watching TV, on Facebook, playing video games, until Mom forces you to the table to reluctantly gobble down some not-fun food, then rush back to your video zone, then you will not be Thankful for the food. Saying grace will not occur to you. Eating is an inconvenience forced by your parents.
If you never experienced working for basic necessities, you won’t appreciate them. If you get luxuries piled onto you, with no effort on your part, which is normal today, then you expect luxuries as something you deserve at no cost and no effort. Basic necessities like food? Of course I deserve them with no effort and at no cost to me! Who cares about what farmer or factory or whatever made it? It’s in the grocery store or the restaurant, whatever.
Here is a video on what it takes to make food versus how easily it is wasted.
The root cause of Thankfulness can be divided into two kinds: 1. Deepest Root of Appreciation: Do the work to grow the food and make it from scratch at least once in your life; 2. Better-than-nothing-root of Appreciation: While you’re at that computer, search and read about what goes into every kind of food you like to eat. Either or both of these two steps should inspire you to Give Thanks before every meal, and make you a more appreciative person.
This Root Cause of Thankfulness is a subset of a larger lifestyle that I highly recommend. It is a lifestyle of gratefulness, hard work, and investigating how things work.
This entry partly from my book
Potential of an Active Mind: How to Recapture the Magic of Everyday Life
© copyright Robert Rose-Coutré 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014