Appreciate things around us, have gratitude, life will be full, complete

Dr. David Locher - Associate Professor of Sociology

Dr. David Locher – Associate Professor of Sociology

When asked to write this column, I tried to think of one idea I would like to share with everyone on campus. That idea is gratitude.

I often feel as if I am surrounded by cranky, unsatisfied people who don’t appreciate what is right in front of them. Don’t be one of those people. Complaining does not make you seem sophisticated or smart, it just makes you sound bitter or difficult. Instead, take a moment to be grateful for what you have. Appreciating the things around us makes life full and complete. Here, then, are a few of the things I am grateful for, and I think everyone should take a moment to imagine life without them.

Penicillin. Remember back when people routinely died from illnesses like Scarlet Fever? Me either. I can’t imagine living in a time when simple infections were deadly, and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to go back to that. People who think modern medicine is nothing but a waste of time and money should move to a remote island somewhere and leave the rest of us alone. I don’t care if your “healing tea” is all natural: I want real medicine, thank you very much.

Air conditioning. How did people live before air conditioning? Can you imagine living in Arizona, Florida or any other Southern or Western state without air conditioning? Every August when the temperature in Joplin hits 105 I sit in cool comfort in my living room and think “Boy, it sure is hot out there.” Then I kick back and watch TV.

Speaking of television, how great is reality TV? A lot of people seem convinced “The Bachelor(ette)” is a sign of the coming apocalypse, but I have two words for them: “Love Boat.” “The Love Boat” was the top television show when I was growing up. What can you learn from watching that? Nothing useful, that’s for sure. On the other hand, shows like “Trading Spaces,” “Trading Spouses” and “Project Runway” fill my evenings with genuine insight into human nature. Want to learn about the impact of differing personal management styles in small businesses? Watch a few episodes of “American Hotrod” and “Southern Steel.” I’ll take “What Not to Wear” over “Sanford and Son” any day.

Indoor plumbing. I have met people who remember using an outhouse. That is a memory I am glad I don’t have. The next time you take a piping-hot shower or bath, say a little prayer of thanks to the many people who made hot water spraying out of your wall on demand a perfectly normal thing.

Wrinkle-resistant/stain-resistant cotton. Those of you who don’t remember a time when digital watches were expensive may not fully appreciate taking a pair of 100 percent cotton pants straight out of the dryer with no wrinkles or stains, but I’m telling you it is a marvel of modern science. Used to be, you had pants that were wrinkle and stain resistant (polyester) or you had pants that were comfortable (cotton). The polyester ones were ugly and made you sweat. Now most cotton pants require no ironing. That’s real progress.

Teflon. And while I’m on the subject of non-slip, stain-resistant coatings, I’d like to give a little shout-out to Teflon. I still use a cast-iron skillet from time to time, but I sure do love the way my eggs just slide right out of a Teflon-coated fry pan. Got to love it. Got to have it.

Sticky notes. I still remember the first time I saw a Post-it Note in person. I was like an isolated villager seeing a mirror for the first time. I stared, fascinated, as I peeled and restuck the thing to my friend’s dorm room door 10 or 20 times while he laughed at me. Anyone who has seen my office can tell you I love sticky notes. I can’t remember what I did before them. Forgot things, mostly.

The Internet.

I just couldn’t let that one go without a mention. If it weren’t for the Internet, I’d have nothing to do between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Most cable channels show only infomercials during that time slot, but the Internet is always open. I know the Internet is revolutionizing every aspect of culture and industry, and that’s what we’re supposed to be excited about, but shopping eBay at 3 a.m. is the real thrill for me. It’s something I couldn’t do when I was a kid, and my life is richer and fuller for it.


I am not ancient, but I clearly remember a time when it was impossible to get a hamburger at 2 a.m. or buy gas after 10 p.m.. Most businesses were closed on Sunday, and there were no ATMs. Those were dark and dreary times. We all had to carefully plan our weekend activities ahead of time so we wouldn’t run out of gas or cash. Now I can fill up any time, shop for shoes in the middle of the night and get a Grand Slam breakfast at noon, midnight or any time in between. That’s service.

The list could go on and on. Lycra. Fast food. Erasable pens. Remote controls. But I think everyone gets the idea. The next time you casually reseal a Ziploc baggie, watch something on your VCR or DVD player, close the Velcro flap on your book bag, or reheat something in the microwave, remember how much we all have to be grateful for. The past wasn’t golden, it was just inconvenient. Right now is a wonderful time to be alive.