The Gratitude Initiative

Yesterday I had the distinct privilege of spending a few hours in the company of Girma Bishaw. He’s a wonderful man seeking to change this nation by being thankful and showing gratitude.

An Ethiopian lunch with Girma
An Ethiopian lunch with Girma

The Rev Dr Bishaw, to give him his proper title, is an Ethiopian who has now spent more years living in the UK than in the country of his birth. In his time here he has seen firsthand how immigrant communities, due to their strong attachment to their country of origin and challenges they face here, may pull away from involvement in their new home nation and this lead to complex issues which could exacerbate the divide rather than solutions to problems. His experience has led him to believe that a culture of gratitude can begin to bridge some of those divides.

During our time together he told me the story of meeting a lady in central London. She commiserated with him the experience of being an immigrant in the UK right now and how difficult it must be for him to be here. Girma’s reply was to point out all the wonderful things about living in Britain.

By the time the conversation finished she had tears in her eyes. ‘If we were in Ethiopia’, as Girma said, ‘we probably would have hugged. This is still Britain’.

Gratitude isn’t about coving up the difficulties and problems that exist in society, but it is about choosing to start the conversation by recognising where there is good and appreciating it. As it says on their website,

We are convinced that a greater culture of gratitude can make a very significant social contribution. A society in which resentments towards the other are frequently expressed without respect and mutual appreciation is a society in danger of fragmentation. A society, however, in which gratitude to the other is readily expressed is one which will be inevitably more stable and coherent.

It was a blessing to spend some time with this man and learn about how he’s seeking positive change. I feel inspired as to what gratitude could do to change my immediate community and even this nation.

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