I believe in gratitude, but I also think gratitude can go too far when it becomes code for "don't complain". I do this with my kids all the time when I tell them they should be thankful that I bought them an ice cream cone instead of whining that they didn't get a Happy Meal. They're holding out for something better. That's when I pull out the starving children in Africa card. Some people don't have enough, and they aren't looking in both directions when they ask for more.
The same is true of working conditions. Yes, we can be grateful we have jobs. We can be happy for the needs and wants our jobs have bought us. But I wonder if we're doing enough comparing, because often we don't realize that we're coming up short. And frankly, some of us don't have time to compare when we're putting food on the table.
But maybe we don't have it as good as we should. If we're working an hourly wage, are we earning a fair wage compared to our salaried counterparts? Is it only upper management that gets family leave?
Or, thinking bigger, what can we expect at the companies we work for compared with other companies? What kind of family-friendly benefits should we expect as a nation compared with other nations? When we don't know what we're missing, the easiest option is to take what we can get and assume we can't ask for more. We worry that someone else will take our place if we don't grab whatever's offered.
I'm not saying employees should act like spoiled children. But if they become aware of how good they could have it, if they dared to expect more of their employers, if they were willing to demand change together, maybe they could make things better for everyone else while they were at it. And then maybe more of us could get what we want.