Are People Really That Ungrateful?

Posted on August 25, 2011


The Ten Lepers from Luke 17:11-19 Google Images

What do you think about this story?

Ten lepers, exiled to live away from family and friends, sometimes wearing a bell to announce the possibility of contagion, probably hopelessly lonely and depressed, were healed miraculously.

Chronic illness, especially one that randomly rots skin, leaving appendages to fall off, can do a number on you. Add to that isolation from all that you know and love.

You’re healed and eternally you’re scum because in your haste to give your spouse and children a hug, you forget to slow down and say thank you.

Why do we focus on their apparent lack of gratitude? Because a thank you means something.

When something nice (or even miraculous) is done for us we expect to feel grateful. And when we witness a kind act done that alleviates any or all suffering we expect that same feeling to be expressed by the recipient as a “thank you”.

We can get upset when someone calls US ungrateful. When we think SOMEONE ELSE doesn’t see what  they’ve been given as a gift, but more as a “right”, we get all huffy and sometimes want to rescind the gift. I feel those feelings with my children sometimes.

I read Stan Faryna’s post, “Empty-handed and Less Traveled Roads” , yesterday, and I wondered. I wondered about the mindset of an old woman, and a boy.

Later in the day I talked to my new car mechanic friend about not getting a thank you from a single mom. A woman who’d been the desperate recipient of a new-to-her car from him. “She got in the car and drove off, never looking back!”

I read a brief synopsis of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs while I was studying marketing principles ( I have NO idea what led me there!) and started to understand something that my heart was trying to say to me all these years.

Maybe in the throes of emotional, physical, economic or psychological crisis , the development of social skills gets a back seat?

So, are we witnessing a lack of manners or a symptom of stress?

This I know. A “thank you”, if nothing else, and at a very fundamental level, is a habit. The best place to learn it is at home.

The leper who gave thanks was a Samaritan, a despised neighbor of some of the Jews of his day. There’s a lesson there, too.

Maybe his mom taught him that the little things really do matter?

What do you think? 

Is gratitude a habit, a feeling, or both?

It’s never to late to learn.

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