From the editor: Gratitude for the help we receive
By the time you’re reading this, our new reporter, Eliza, will have been part of the team for a week.
Wow, it’s great to have her.
You’ve already read some of her great work, but what you don’t know is the high quality of what comes my way in her initial drafts. What you don’t see is the excellent story ideas she comes up with to pursue for you, our readers. What you probably wouldn’t suppose is the depth of research and the quality of reporting she’s doing in order to bring you the stories she’s already brought you and all those she’s soon to deliver.
It’s fantastic, and it’s a reminder to me, after spending the first month and a half of my time in Craig as the lone reporter in the building, just how valuable it is to have help.
But then, as I think of that, I realize how much help I have had even to this point, and how much help I continue to receive going forward.
I won’t name every member of the team that makes it possible for us to get the paper in your hands twice a week and online every day, because I’d be sure to miss someone. But suffice to say that, without them, this couldn’t happen. I’m so grateful.
It reminds me that, in truth, all of us need help. While we sometimes view our successes in life as the result of our own great effort — and surely it often is, in part — we are wiser when we remember that we essentially never get to where we are totally on our own.
If we’re doing well, there is little doubt that we’ve been beneficiaries of family and friends, teachers and mentors, lenders and investors, teammates and directors, and privileges and accesses. In the extremely unlikely event we have none of those, we have those who built our society from every angle to put us in a position to succeed therein.
The urge to view our lot in life as earned by us is a natural one. It’s probably as much a human instinct as it is a cultural one, but it’s definitely both. And it’s fine to make some level of acknowledgment for our own efforts.
But it’s healthy for many reasons to sit humbly in gratitude, recognizing that, without help, we almost certainly wouldn’t be where we are today. In part, it’s just good practice to be grateful — I won’t get into the spiritual significance of gratitude here, but it’s also proven by science to be a powerful psychological boon to give thanks.
There’s at least one more important reason gratitude is valuable, though. It’s because taking stock of the help we’ve been offered can — should — compel us to offer help to others. As we witness to ourselves the enormous blessing we’ve received at the hands of another, we are encouraged to “pay it forward” and deal such blessing to one in need.
There are those in our community who are not doing well. In some cases, maybe it’s their own poor choices that have led them to this current state of discomfort or even extremity. But in most cases, it’s at least in part a lack of some of the help we listed above that you and I were fortunate enough to receive to prop us up as we walked this tightrope that is life.
Maybe they missed the safety nets. Maybe there were no nets at all. Maybe they never made it to the high wire in the first place, caught in an inescapable cycle of poor fortune down below.
We can still help them. And to suppose they don’t deserve our help is to ignore the reality that we have needed help — and received it — uncountable times before. The saying is “There but for the grace of God go I,” and as true as that is, it is also worth adding “…and but for the help of others.”
The poet John Doane said, “No man is an island.” Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Jesus said to “Love one another.”
Let’s give thanks for all we’ve received and continue to receive. And then let’s turn around and be the cause for someone else’s gratitude.
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