By Dr. H. D. Lambeth
We see in the news, the attention given to different public figures such as researchers, artists, musicians, celebrities, and athletes. We may also hear of less famous people being praised such as a poet being recognized as a Laureate, or a leading businessman being named the grand marshal of a parade somewhere. We read that philanthropists and emergency personnel are called heroes. We find in our society a number of personages and so-called successful people being interviewed and praised. But seldom do we pause and consider the tremendous impact upon our lives of the countless engineers and tradesmen and experts that design the products that we use and have come to depend upon every day.
Hold in your hand any of the hundreds of items delivered to us in attractive plastic, metal, or cardboard formed packaging, and stop to consider the numerous designers, engineers, and factory workers who worked behind the scenes to develop that item. Reach up to the shelf for a paper plate, and pause for a moment to admire and wonder at the technology that made it available.
Can you imagine yourself being challenged to design a machine to manufacture a cigarette? To mass produce the lovely glass stemware you bought to give your niece on her wedding day? To create a simple but lovely design onto a plastic spoon? What about the marvelous convenience and sterility of a pop-up tissue or a roll of toilet paper? There are literally billions of other blessings in our daily lives that have come from the inventiveness and talents of persons whose resultant creations we simply take for granted.
Surely it is of great importance to recognize the life's work of Dr. Salk for developing the polio vaccine, and the people singled out each year to receive a Nobel Prize in honor of their efforts to make the world a better place. But the point of this brief epistle is to suggest that very often we should take time out amidst our lives to feel a sense of gratitude for the people who gambled with their personal time and financial well-being to design and put before us the thousands of items that are in themselves, works of art.
We take for granted the wholesomeness of the food that is processed and delivered to our supermarkets, without considering the dedication and integrity of the manufacturers for keeping up a standard of purity, consistency in standardization, and healthfulness that is advertised by the attractive label. We choose a can of tuna fish or salmon and go about preparing it for dinner without giving any thought to how much effort was put in. The cycle began with the fisherman's role, of course―but the producing of the can itself involved many facets of manufacturing, from the mining or recycling of the metal, to the design and printing of the label, to the design and building of the equipment used to can the meat, and not to mention the people involved in operating those machines to prepare the fish for canning.
A deeper moment of elaboration will generate thoughts about the manufacture of the boat and fishing equipment that the fishermen used, the machinery to print the label and the ink used to print the label, the paper the label is created from, and even the adhesive used to affix it to the can. Even more fine-tuning of this elaboration gets at the truck or vehicle transporting the product, the storehouses used along the way, and of course there is even more thought that can be generated, all from taking time to give that can of fish its overdue consideration.
In like manner, without any hesitation we buy our ticket and get on an airplane, train, or bus and feel confident that our voyage or trip will go smoothly. Indeed, a day doesn't go by that we are not presented with hundreds of circumstances on life's adventure that we complacently take for granted.
This inclination toward a "taking things for granted" attitude is really a far-reaching one that we experience sometimes from others in terms of our relationship with them, both in regard to the way we believe they feel about us and, conversely, how we think they perceive what we feel about them.
Taking "things" for granted also invades our spiritual life as well, in the sense that we take for granted the prospect of the change of the seasons, the belief that the sun will indeed rise each morning and set each night, and the facts of daily life, such as the joy of matrimony, the reassurance of friendship, and the joy of holding a newborn child and looking into those tiny innocent eyes. Too often we take for granted our very heartbeat and the air we breathe, without feeling that sense of awe and profound love of God that puts it all in place.
Look about! Look about! And immediately begin to make scores of discoveries of things to feel good about - things that have a vital place in our life that have been there all along, but now are more THERE than before. Stop to take a moment now and then to consciously, purposefully not take for granted the millions of people who have endeavored to make the world a better place for us all.