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Swimmers worked an hour to free this humpback whale tangled in fishing net. To see the whale’s reaction, skip to 6:40 on the video. Perhaps the display was one of sheer elation at being freed, or perhaps an unbridled expression of gratitude.
This whale knows something too many of us have forgotten. Our society has embraced the culture of convenience, entitlement, and victimization to the point where we barely feel appreciation anymore. In a world where everything is supposed to be available and instantaneous, we’ve responded with the attitude that everything takes too long, takes too much thought, takes too much effort. Our expectations are so high that we are forever frustrated and disgruntled.
In biblical Hebrew, the term for gratitude is hakoras hatov — literally, “recognizing the good.” Before we can appreciate, we have to look for the good in our lives, see it as good, recognize how we have benefited from it as good; once we have that recognition, not only can we experience true appreciation but we inevitably will feel appreciative. How can we not, with that which has benefited us so clear before our eyes?
“The wise man’s eyes are in his head,” says King Solomon in Proverbs. Only if we see through the lens of our minds’ eye can we truly perceive, truly understand, and truly achieve the lofty human reactions that should be uniquely ours, but which sometimes we have to learn from the creatures with which we share our world.
How sad for us if they get it and we don’t.