The ancient Persians held ingratitude to be a very serious offense: for them it was a gateway, in fact, to all kinds of vices. Xenophon, in his Cyropaedia, describes the prevailing attitude in Persian society in this regard:Continue reading
There are many people who manifest a lack of thankfulness in their daily lives. This comes across not only in how they treat others, but in how they treat themselves. Lack of gratitude comes down to a failure of will: a failure to appreciate the real potential that lies within, and a failure to understand how short life can be. Stop looking for free handouts, and start being someone who offers value.
In a letter to Titinius Capito, the Roman official and career lawyer Pliny discusses the idea of writing a book of history. Of particular concern to him was the choice of topic: he was uncertain whether he should treat an ancient or a modern subject. Valid arguments existed for both options. An older subject might allow for a more considered perspective, far removed from the passions of immediate memory; whereas the treatment of a current subject might inflame unreasonable emotions in his readers. Pliny has serious doubts about choosing a subject that might be within the living memory of his readers. He summarizes his feelings with this sentence:
There is a scene in the movie The Wild Bunch (1969) where Ernest Borgnine and William Holden are discussing the making of promises. Holden says, “We gave our word.” Borgnine angrily responds, “That ain’t what counts. It’s who you give it to!”
We have recently discussed ways of handling a lack of appreciation. A certain independence of spirit–a soaring greatness of soul–is one of the main ways we can limit our expectations of appreciation from others. Consider again, if you need to, the verses of Ibn Munir on this subject, which capture perfectly this spiritual independence. As I see it, no more powerful statement of this ethic has ever been put into poetic form.