Remember that old-fashioned word, gratitude? Recognizing that a benefit you haven’t earned came from somewhere? This is the virtue that Obama’s famous “you didn’t build that” tried to leverage for guilt-tripping “Big Business”. A silver lining (if there is one) might be that they still occasionally recognize gratitude is a good thing.
It was during the Floridian Hurricane season that I received a real lesson in gratitude. By our third year there, we’d learned how to play the game. Put up the shutters, have your supplies on hand. Follow the weather reports, watch the “cone of uncertainty”. You roll with it.
Naturally, just before we moved back to Canada, a storm came. It wasn’t a very big one, compared to some we’d seen before. “Just” a Category One. And its eye was expected to pass about an hour north of where we were living. No big deal.
We still had packing to do, and really weren’t worried, so we skipped the usual precautions. When it changed direction, the eye crossed right over our house.
Like I said, it wasn’t a very big storm. I even ventured outside, to see what the eye was like. That was a first for me, and it came with a sense of wonder. There weren’t many broken branches to be seen, the power stayed on, and we laughed with friends about it later.
Time passed, we got on a plane, and we were in the air just as that same storm was making landfall again. You might have heard of that storm. It hammered the States along the Gulf Coast, and nearly submerged New Orleans. Yes, this was Katrina. When images of the devastation became public, I was deeply grateful to God that we did not share that fate.
We do not control the weather. (Settle down, I’m not bringing up Climate Change.) If it’s sunny we get hot, and if it rains we get wet. There isn’t much we can do about it.
And here is where I flip the “you didn’t build that” idea around. Today, we are still affected by weather patterns. Farmers still see drought, hail, flooding, insects, or disease ruin a growing season. Entire crops are destroyed, and come to nothing. We used to call this situation “famine”. People would starve; and — in some parts of the world — still do. But we don’t. We still go to the the grocery store, and can get guava from South Africa, olives from the Mediterranean, asparagus from Latin America, and cashews from India.
How do we have grocery stores with this kind of selection, from around the world? Private Business.
Private business is the link between growers around the world, and your dinner table. Big Business, to use the maligned term, makes grocery stores possible. Cargo ships made by private companies carry food from private import/export firms, sold at market. Trucks (often private operators) carry them from the port to the local distribution center, then to the grocery store, then to your table.
When bureaucratic red tape, water restrictions, ethanol production, ecological land claims, wind farms, solar farms and all the rest diminish our ability to convert arable land into food, private businesses can still help us squeeze maximum benefit out of the land we have left. Modern innovations in fertilizer, irrigation, pesticides, farm vehicles, veterinary care, and a host of other factors owe a debt to individuals and companies, many of which worked for profit.
Whether you work on Wall Street, or just “occupy” it, you eat food. And that food came from somewhere. Instead of shaking your fists at the companies that brought it to you, look overseas at countries that don’t have our business infrastructure and remember how fragile life can be if you only rely on your own country’s food production.
You cannot resent those you are grateful to, and you cannot be grateful to those you resent.
Obama was only half-right. The system that provides me with a stable food source was not made by me. Private business built that. And I, for one, am grateful.
Image Courtesy of Paul Keheler