Be Mindful: Gratitudes are Cultural Phenomena

Note: If you are new to my site, I want to say this is a “deeper” posting and you may want to visit one of my earlier posts, more playful posts first. This topic offers an academic post versus a fun post.

During my career, I had the opportunity to participate in writing the “Human Rights Convention for Persons with Disabilities” at the United Nations. Also, I served as President of a NGO (nongovernmental organization) for ISAAC (the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication), representing approximately 60 countries. The photo is with my colleague Sudha Kaul who served as President of ISAAC before my term in 2009-2010.

Also in the 1990’s, I was granted a Department of Education Personnel Preparation Grant to study multicultural issues with a variety of families from Hispanic/Latino, Asian, European American, and African American communities across Southern California. As a teacher-scholar we led multiple focus groups over many years to learn why families select Health Care, seek Educational Opportunities for their children, and participate in Special Education. Thus, my background and scholarship have provided vast opportunities for me to think about the impact of culture on almost everything I do, as well as on what I personally experience. It is within that context that I write this post today for your consideration and reflection.

I am now approaching a total of 40 posts on this site. I post blogs that I will begin to tag “gratitude zero”, “gratitude lite”, and/or “gratitude ultra”. These labels were introduced and defined in my post on February 28, 2021, Your Choice: Gratitude Zero, Gratitude Lite, or Gratitude Ultra.

The more that I post and search for visual examples of the subject matter, I am increasingly becoming aware that “gratitude” stems from deep inside one’s life experience. Thus, gratitudes are cultural phenomena. What this means is that my life experiences reflect those values, morals, belief systems, and events in which I have participated to date.

Let me give you an example: When I was searching for photos of “soaking” on the post on March 1, 2021, A Deep Gratitude Soak, I recognized that many of the open source photos were pictures of “white privilege”. That is, especially if we profile women in the western cultures…, women go to spas, women soak in deep baths, men and women have the luxury to relax in saunas, mud baths, natural spring pools, and so forth.

Members of other communities do not frequently have the means or leisure time to pursue “spa soaks”. As I searched for children, animals, and adults from within other ethnic groups, races, communities or countries, I was reminded that members beyond European Americans or in developing countries need the water to survive, do laundry, drink (even if dirty), and often walk a long way to collect water and carry it back to their villages. I felt so aware and some feelings of distress, or minimally embarrassment that some of us have so much in life, and others have nearly nothing. If I offended anyone, it was not intended certainly.

Even as I share examples from my own midwestern history, I sit here recognizing that many families are disrupted, are led by single parents, and may or may not have financial opportunities that lead to “gratitude”. These problems are within “white communities” too. In addition, I am further aware of depression, suicide, alcohol, drug abuse, violence, and crimes to which many young children and individuals are subjected regularly across many different ethnic and racial groups.

I want to explicitly express to all of my readers that my objective is to outline a possible pathway to gratitude for each of you. But, I am increasingly aware that my own cultural experiences may get in my way because I am a product of my own life to date.

While I have atypical access to many professionals around the world in many different countries, that does not, in any way, make me an expert on the sources of gratitude that may be derived from within those communities.

To voice my concerns in another way, I do not presume to tell an individual who is African American how they may find gratitude in their particular life. Further, I do not claim to have a deep and mindful understanding of Asian, or Hispanic/Latino communities either.

So, in essence, we want to move along the spectrum toward “gratitude ultra”, from “gratitude zero” to “gratitude lite”, to “gratitude ultra”.

Let me explicitly state that the more I read and write, the more humbled I become at my limitations with regard to helping persons within all of the various communities around the world.

I do, however, believe strongly that we may help each other learn from one another to move into this dimension.

That is, from my years in academia, and in service to persons with severe physical and intellectual challenges, I am convinced that we have similarities as well as differences as members of the great global human race. When I was seriously ill, I drew from the practices and literatures around the world to seek medical care. My intention is to do the same as we study gratitudes together.

But, even those statements reveal my white privilege because I recognize that I have the luxury of time, and computer resources to read, study, compare, and reach out to people for discussions and deepened understanding.

So, I am asking my readers to accept my cultural limitations, as well as my heart felt intentions to lead this journey to gratitude.

With all of your help, it should be fascinating and fulfilling to share together. Many of you are communicating with me about your gratitude. These posts are your stimuli. My deepest and sincere appreciation to each of you.

I want to become your student to learn and transmit new knowledge down line.

We may not be able to move out of this pandemic as quickly as we would all like, but we can surely move deeper into gratitude to sustain our hearts and souls during this chaotic time.

I ask you to be mindful. Teach us. Provide examples of gratitude from your own cultural experiences. Gift us with your personal stories and life experiences. We will all be better for your efforts. Thank you.

This is #gratitudeultra. See the post on February 28, 2021 for a definition of the gratitude categories.

2 thoughts on “Be Mindful: Gratitudes are Cultural Phenomena

  1. Pingback: Mask ON, Mask OFF (Audio) – Gratitude Squared

  2. Pingback: Mask On, Mask Off – Gratitude Squared

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