Thanksgiving and meaning it


This week is the time of the year when we in the US take a break from our busy lives to express Gratitude. I have plenty to be thankful for this year.

Gratitude is a positive emotion we feel in acknowledgment of a benefit we have received. Saying “Thank You” is the way to express that emotion which is the basis of life in community. It recognizes that we depend on one another to live, to be ourselves.

We get used to say “Thank You” as a matter of social protocol. This is the time to bring its meaning back to consciousness.

In my native Portuguese, we say “Obrigado“, which is not my favorite expression because it equals gratitude with indebtedness. Literally, it says “I owe you something”.

In my travels around the world I have always taken interest not only on the local word to express gratitude, but also on its literal meaning and the social attitude behind it.

My favorite form of “Thank You” is the one used in Malaysia. “Terima Kasih” sounds very friendly and it literally translates to “Receive Love”.

I am no historian or linguist, but I theorize that words equating gratitude and indebtedness have roots in a period in history where gratitude was used as social currency between levels of hierarchy, where favors were exchanged for political loyalty. Words that equals gratitude with love reflect a more equal exchange between peers.

As we evolve towards a world where stronger relationships are people-to-people rather than people-to-organization, gratitude has to be more like love and less like indebtedness.

With that in mind, I would like to say Thank You for reading, agreeing or disagreeing, providing feedback and teaching me through interaction this year.

Here is a list to say Thank You in other languages.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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