Wednesday 25 December 2019

To what end ... is ingratitude?

Be thankful for everything
I saw a tweet earlier that made me reflect on the power of gratitude and the curse of ingratitude. This person out of the blue had paid into the account of a cousin, not substantial and yet not insignificant. The cousin rather than thank his benefactor suggested he was too big for the ordinary sum of money paid into his account. As fate would have it, the transaction was reversed, the benefactor richer with the opportunity to bless someone else, the cousin left with nothing.
So many thoughts crossed my mind about the reaction of that cousin, the thinking that informed him that it was better to project entitlement rather than gratitude. We make interesting assumptions about others when we have needs and ask for help without any inkling about the other responsibilities and calls upon the resources of the benefactor.
The tendency to feel that in the midst of our pressing need we have become the centre of the world to which everyone else should beckon first with priority before anything else is inconsiderate, selfish and demonstrate a lack grace.
You can’t decide for others
You cannot decide for a benefactor how they should dispose of their resources whether they be parsimonious or generous, it is their prerogative alone to decide who to give to and whether they are disposed to give at all. Now, even if the beneficiary is a person of great means that the gift is little or insignificant, the better sentiment is to think of the motive and the consideration with a thankful response.
I constantly check on my thankful spirit, whether I have been appreciative of the little as I have been of the much. I want my sense of gratitude to be alert, full of initiative and ready to give expression long before it is instigated. Its importance can never be overstated.
Gratitude as talent
I am reminded of the parable of the talents in the Bible, where a master about to travel distributed 8 talents amongst three servants. To one was handed 5 talents and I presume that servant had the capacity, the aptitude and the responsibility to handle 5 talents, when the master returned, he had doubled the investment. To another was given 2 talents according to their ability and the same doubled that investment. [Wikipedia]
The last was given one talent, my view is the servant given the talent for that sake of not being left out, the servant from the master’s opinion had none of the capacity of the other two servants and the master was proven right, the servant buried rather than invested the talent, then blamed the master for his failure to act like his wiser colleagues.
That one talent servant had the talent taken off him and given to the servant who managed 5 talents. The one talent servant was then thrown out of their job into destitution. In today’s setting it could be an unproductive employee who gets no promotion then gets sacked and receives no positive references to help them along.
Appreciating the power of gratitude
Yet, the spirit of gratitude is an enabler in ways we can never fully appreciate, it is in the being helpful, being considerate, being respectful, being available, being generous, being empathetic, having a listening ear, it is the open mind, the open heart, the open hand, the accepting rather than rejecting, the presence of mind to find a good perspective regardless, overlooking offence in the quest for agreement.
You get remembered favourably when opportunity comes, next time the benefactor has much more to give, I doubt the cousin will be in the list of those to be blessed. Ingratitude closes the small doors that lead to the grand gateways to amazing things in life. Sometimes, we need to have periods of introspection that help us realise whether a sense of ingratitude might have closed the door to new opportunity and make to redress that failing.
I have too many examples of where my perception of the power of gratitude as expressed in this blog has given me amazing opportunities and successes. I am thankful for the little and the plenty, every blessing is worthy of a sincerely grateful heart. There can be no good end to ingratitude but loss, penalty, punishment or to be forgotten where others are remembered, it is self-harm masquerading as arrogance, pride, delusions of grandeur, or an inflated sense of self.
Courtesy of the William Kentridge exhibition at Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town.

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