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Archdeacon of West Ham Elwin Cockett tells us not to resent what we don’t have

PUBLISHED: 13:23 02 April 2014 | UPDATED: 13:23 02 April 2014

Archant

I am just home from a wonderful trip to Kenya which has got me thinking.

I was there as part of a link that the Anglican Church in East London and Essex has with churches and schools in a vast area around Mount Kenya (stretching from Embu up to Marsabit, if you know Kenya).

I saw some great things, including a few lions, ­elephants and giraffes! More importantly, though, I saw some wonderful work being done by courageous people serving the people of a hard-pressed part of Africa.

I was struck by the sheer resourcefulness of families who don’t always have clean tap water, or a 24-hour electricity supply, or well-stocked shops.

Their ability to make a good life from very little was humbling.

But the thing that impressed me most was their unfailing thankfulness.

No matter what they haven’t got, they give thanks all the time, with disarming sincerity, for what they have got.

I saw this thankfulness in their relationships with each other and in the generosity of the welcome I received.

Most of all, I saw it in their prayers, in which they give thanks to God at every opportunity. And it makes them happy, positive people to be with.

Now, it would be easy to be cynical about that.

But I wonder whether we, in the west, might do well to be a bit more thankful and positive about the privileges that we enjoy compared to the average person in the developing world.

I’m not suggesting that life is easy here. But I am suggesting that we could all benefit from adopting that attitude of thankfulness.

Whether we’re rich or poor, most of us in East London have access to free health care, free education to secondary level, and can buy food of a range and variety unknown to our great-grandparents, let alone the people of rural Kenya.

I’m reminded of that old song Count Your Blessings, One By One. If we do that, rather than being resentful about what we don’t have, we might just find that we can be as happy and positive as those people I met in Kenya.


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