in cultivating an appreciation of what we take for granted


In the past, everyone was expected and required to accept the authority of the church and believe in the veracity of the Bible. It is difficult for us in the modern world to appreciate what an immense change has taken place and how much freedom in comparison we now enjoy - or would do, if we actually did appreciate it. Unfortunately, we just take it for granted, as we do modern conveniences such as the water, gas and electricity supplies to our homes.

The threat to our planet is to a large extent the consequence of our tendency to take for granted what we already have, instead of cultivating an appreciation of it.

Taking what we have for granted and encouraged by our growth-dependent economy, most of us are preoccupied with acquiring ever more. This is largely responsible for the non-sustainable human activity threatening our planet.

Generally it is the most important things we take for granted, such as our freedoms, and the availability of basic commodities such as food, water, gas and electricity. A detailed list of all the things we tend to take for granted would be pretty long, but it is well worth putting your own list together to see what you come up with, and perhaps to compare it with other people's lists, and to note some of the things you have forgotten (i.e. taken so much for granted).

The best way I can think of to cultivate appreciation of what we have is to look at history. It is not very long ago that most of the things now so important to us, and taken for granted, were not available, at least not to the vast majority of people, and many things not even to the very richest.

The history of how people (our own forebears) lived in the past should be used to cultivate an appreciation of what we now all too readily take for granted. As a society, we should not just encourage people of all ages to read about how people lived in the past (which is not everybody’s cup of tea), but provide encouragement, facilities and opportunities for them to actually experience and relive it: for example, by spending time (a day or more, or even weeks) in a model village, where conditions are recreated as they were in the middle ages, for example. Without going so far as to put anyone’s health or life in danger, the aim would be to give people as realistic an experience of life at that time as possible.

Such historical "recreation" centres need to become an integral part of our culture. There should be no question as to whether or not we can afford them. We cannot afford not to have them! It is vitally important that we learn, and continually cultivate, an appreciation for what we have. Our long-term survival depends on it.