Although they do not express it quite this way, many people I know are repeating some version of the same prayer. That prayer could be summed up, simply, as: "Thank You, God, For This Job That I Hate."
People who were thinking of busting loose and doing something entrepreneurial or going back to school are now clinging to jobs they loathe. Through gritted teeth, they give thanks for working unpaid overtime; or shifts that take them into unholy hours and keep them from seeing their families; or any number of other stomach-tightening scenarios. They know other friends of theirs have been cut loose, and hiring is tight.
This newfound grudging gratitude reminds me of what's going on in politics. For example, the New York Times has a piece today on whether white Americans in a crumbling steel-town will vote for the black guy. It starts out:
Voting for the black man does not come easy to Nick Piroli. He is the first to admit that.
To the sound of bowling balls smacking pins, as the bartender in the Fallout Shelter queues up more Buds, this retired steelworker wrestles with this election and his choice. A couple of friends, he says, will not vote for Senator Barack Obama.
"I'm no racist, but I'm not crazy about him either," said Mr. Piroli, 77. "I don't know, maybe 'cause he's black."
He winces at himself. "We was raised and worked with the black, the Serb," he said. "It was a regular league of nations. And the economy now, it's terrible."
"I've got to vote for him," he said finally.
Is that the equivalent of, "Thank You, God, For This Candidate That I Hate"?
Gratitude that you have a political choice — even one you don't love — can go a long way. Although votes are often shaped by emotions, a vote in and of itself does not carry its emotional charge past the ballot box. What I mean by that is: the vote of someone who hates the candidate, but has to choose him, is just as valuable as the vote of a true believer.
So in that case, perhaps the corresponding prayer would be from politicians:
"Thank You, God, For the Voters That Hate Me"... the ones that could carry a contestant across the finish line.