How can we be grateful for outcomes that are caused by accidents or wrongdoing?
We sometimes face challenging circumstances that have silver linings or some positive outcomes. Adaptive pressures can help us to grow. We may develop positive traits that we are profoundly proud of, but as a result of injustice or evil.
There are a few issues I want to explore around gratitude. How can we be grateful for what is and for what good things we enjoy, while still properly condemning the causes?
A very straightforward example might be a woman who is raped. Through the ordeal of the violation and subsequent healing, she may develop a new strength and resilience she never had and might not otherwise have had. She might be properly proud of who she has become, but condemn the rapist, despite the fact that he was the catalyst of her growth.
I don't think this entails any cognitive dissonance, and I think there's a connection to how you can truly believe that people are generally doing the best they can (and in extreme cases, even feel compassion for someone who has fallen so far as to commit atrocities) and also hold them accountable by condemning their behavior and treating them accordingly.
Some thoughts on terminology: There are a few different constructions...I'm not sure what I think of them yet, but they might be helpful to analyze:
- gratitude to the cause of some result (eg, a person)
- gratitude for either a cause or a result
- gratitude that some result (usually)
Related: Tortured monk urges compassion