It was G.K Chesterton who is often rumored to have been the driving influence in C.S Lewis' conversion to Christianity. Chesterton works are powerful and he was noted as a Christian Apologists, but my appreciation also stems towards Gilbert Keith whom is said to be the "Prince of Paradox".
What Is A Paradox?
Paradoxes are statements that seem to contradict itself, yet may actually be true. Paradoxes are hard for most of us to grasp. Paradoxes seem ironic in nature. The value of discovering truth inside of paradoxical thinking was inspired to me by my trusted friend and oft critical thinking friend, Mike Porenta. Mike has often helped me to "reverse the logic" or work through my challenges backwards, which may sometimes reiterate Covey's principle to "begin with the end in mind".
The reversing of logic in a natural thinking process has helped me to unmask camouflaged truths that were always there, but not seen (or understood).
Christ is famous for his parables and his paradoxes. I have come to really appreciate the paradoxes of Truth. Discovering paradoxes is like geocaching, but instead of some micro cache that holds little to no value, other than being able to write my name to some tiny piece of paper that will soon decompose. Identifying paradoxical truths I can inscribe into my brain and onto my heart an improved way to view life and if I am serious enough it always improves my quality of life.
One particular paradox that causes strain on the mind and on the heart is that of gratitude. It's as if gratitude or appreciation are one word paradoxes, assuming that to be appreciative is to mean "be grateful always".
Can you be grateful always? Let me articulate my thought a little more clearly. Should you be grateful always? Now lets reverse the question. Is there always something to be grateful for? Regardless the circumstances? Regardless the injustice? Regardless the outcome of your lives? Do our challenges, struggles, set-backs, weaknesses have positive paradoxes of great value hidden inside?
Brother Chesterton influences me to believe that "the aim of life is appreciation." he continues on by instructing that "there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them, if you have less appreciation of them." Let's work through the logic of his last sentence: If I do not have appreciation for my problems, then there is no value in having more of them. Or. If I do not have appreciation for my successes, then there is no value in having more of them. Regardless of your answer therein lies a clear perspective of some of my fundamental beliefs. This is where our character has the opportunity to shine us or shame us. In short, we can now begin to discuss philosophy. The glass is half empty or half full.
I wonder if this really is the aim of life, not because I question the virtue of gratitude nor because I have seen the vice of selfishness. I wonder because there are times when life feels so unfair, so unforgiving, so dang mean where we are all working hard to just be our best.
This is not to diminish the harsh reality that many dig pits for their neighbors. That the hearts of men are becoming (waxing) cold. That brothers are fighting brothers, yes you remember the movie "Warrior" and most are fighting with the cowardice of litigiation.
Quotes About Litigation:
"Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them that the nominal winner is often a real loser - in fees, expenses and waste of time." - Abraham Lincoln
"Like warfare, litigation should be avoided. Let's candidly admit that from every client's point of view virtually every litigated case is a mistake. Unless one client or both had made a mistake, the case could have been settled and both would have been better off. They might have been able to craft an outcome reconciling their differing interests far better than a court could later. At the worst, they could have saved and divided between them the impressive legal fees that litigators earn." Professor Roger Fisher, Harvard Law School
"Is there a virtue more in need of application in our time than the virtue of forgiving and forgetting? There are those who would look upon this as a sign of weakness. Is It? I submit that it takes neither strength nor intelligence to brood in anger over wrongs suffered, to go through life with a spirit of vindictiveness, to dissipate one's abilities in planning retribution. There is no peace in the nursing of a grudge. There is no happiness in living for the day when you can 'get even'." - Gordon Hinckley, Standing for Something.
In 1984, U.S. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger conclusively spoke in his State of the Judiciary Address official disgust regarding the reliance on "the adversary process as the principal means of resolving conflicting claims as a mistake that must be corrected." He articulated further "for some disputes, trials will be the only means, but for many, trials by the adversary contest must in time go the way of the ancient trial by battle and blood. Our System is too costly, too painful, too destructive, too inefficient for a truly civilized people"
"They have little difficulty finding some attorney will to act as high priest in transferring their responsibility to some else. They file suit with little or no merit intending to force others to settle in order to avoid the unconscionable cost of defending themselves in court.'' - Dallin H. Oaks, Fmr Utah Supreme Court Judge
We must forgive. We must forget. We must find the gratitude in life's most challenging and questioning moments. I know I can do so much better than I have.