Q: Obviously being grateful helps the one who feels it, but what good does one’s own gratefulness do for those who are suffering horribly in this evil-infested world? Tell me truly, how could yours or my gratefulness relieve the suffering of children crippled for life by American state terrorism? How does our gratefulness help the families of innocent children being murdered right now by the U.S. military in Iraq? — D.T.

A: +Your question, D.T., moves me deeply because i have so often faced the same question in my own heart. My compassion, like yours, cries out when i realize what suffering my own country – the United States – is inflicting on the innocent. This compassion is a powerful response to the given situation, but it is not yet a full response. It is paralyzed by sense of disempowerment. I feel so helpless, seeing that the civil liberties of U.S. citizens are being deliberately corroded by our present government, that the democratic process is being perverted, and that the media connive in brainwashing well-meaning people. Again and again i have to remind myself to look beyond these grim facts to see the full picture. I still can speak out for justice; i still can stand up and “speak truth to power”; i can support the “Second Superpower” – as the New York Times called the worldwide tide of people demanding peace. This, too, is part of the picture. For this, i can be grateful. And my gratefulness will be that full response which releases the full power of my compassion. There lies the answer to your question, “What good does one’s own gratefulness do for those who are suffering?” Gratefulness is creative; gratefulness overflows into action.

At the website of Avaaz you will find links through which you can act right now. Thank you for daring to face the unpopular issue of “American state terrorism.” Thank you for your burning compassion. May gratefulness for what you can do give you enthusiasm to do it.

— Your Brother David

Br. David Steindl-Rast Peace
Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

About the author

Brother David Steindl-Rast — author, scholar, and Benedictine monk — is beloved the world over for his enduring message about gratefulness as the true source of lasting happiness. Known to many as the “grandfather of gratitude,” Br. David has been a source of inspiration and spiritual friendship to countless leaders and luminaries around the world including Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton, and more. He has been one of the most important figures in the modern interfaith dialogue movement, and has taught with thought-leaders such as Eckhart Tolle, Jack Kornfield, and Roshi Joan Halifax. His wisdom has been featured in recent interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Krista Tippett, and Tami Simon and his TED talk has been viewed almost 10,000,000 times. Learn more about Br. David here.