To be ungrateful is sinful. It is a failure to repay a moral debt. There are degrees of ungratefulness. The first degree is to neglect to return a favor. The second degree is to take no notice of the favor. The lowest degree in ingratitude is to fail even to admit to one’s self that a favor has been given. We are all familiar with ungrateful people–people who accept favors as if they were theirs by right, people who never thank anyone for favors, and people who never return a favor. Such people are like sands in the workings of a fine watch. They grate on other people’s feelings and remove the pleasure from human relationships and love. Saint Thomas in My Way of Life
Thankfulness is key to my life. I truly believe that everyone, no matter what their station or situation in life, has something to be thankful for. We often equate thankfulness to material possessions. The more “things” that one has the more thankful one should be. I know that for me it is easy to be thankful when my belly is full and my bank account has money but I have seen many folks in dire situations that are extremely thankful.
We always tried to teach the boys when they were young to say thank you. The effect of a simple thank you can carry great weight and it always impressed me when we lived in North Carolina how polite children were. They were raised to say thank you. It was automatic to say “Yes Ma’am” and “No, Sir”. It was a normal response and to this midwestern girl it was welcomed and I tried to teach our boys to be as polite as possible.
My brother in law, Carlton, is a work in progress just like the rest of us. Over the years when the health of his folks deteriorated he spent more and more time on his own and one of the results of that was a lessening of some social skills that he had always had. When we moved in after his dad’s death it was obvious to me that he needed a bit of behavior modification in that area and so I put my social work hat on and tried to transform some of his manners. Well, we all know how well it works when you try to change someone! It doesn’t. But what I wanted was to get Carlton to simply say thank you again. When he was complimented on how nice he looked he would respond “I know.”. When someone was nearing a door that needed to be opened he stood back and did nothing. When he was given a present he would ooh and ahhh but have to be reminded to say thank you.
It is those simple acts that I believe can make a huge difference. That is why I was so adamant that Carlton should try to remember to do those things again. As an adult with Down Syndrome he already has enough challenges and I wanted him to be able to appreciate and respond appropriately to situations he might find himself in. As we watched him open his birthday presents recently over webcams we noticed that that politeness and gratitude is sneaking back into his life once again. It makes me smile. It makes me very grateful and happy that he has a lot to be thankful for and he realizes it. Now if we can only get the rest of the world to move towards a heart of gratitude .