These are the reflections of a man given a second chance. He feels his gratitude and consciousness, and he can see others who are without those attributes. He asks, where do you get allegiance and loyalty? Who told you of the virtues to preserve society?
He wonders, isn’t there an unconscious pull for a person to want to try to help, and then a pull to make life better for himself first? Wouldn’t it be a sin if the individual places his wants, greed mostly, as being more important than society?
Throughout the book, two things about Breslin shine through. First, it is seeing. He looks at all of life and weighs it. He sees through the eyes of other people, and he walks in their shoes. He marvels at their hard lives, their resilience and their place in the man-made scheme of things.
Second, it is gratitude. Even before surviving a mortal threat, Breslin is filled with it. He sees himself clearly in relationship to others — and sees everybody in relationship to society — and that fuels his gratitude and his desire to point out wrongs. For him, anything less would be cowardice.
In this new year, perhaps we can try to see freshly, and more clearly, and navigate with gratitude.
Brian T. Watson is a Salem News columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.