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RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- We hear plenty of platitudes this time of the year about expressing gratitude. Let's talk instead about what might be on your mind: ingratitude.
Maybe it's the "friend" who now ignores you for reasons you can't fathom. Or the colleague who stabbed you in the back. Or the relative who repaid your kindness with insults.
You've done the same or worse; so have I. But let's not dwell on that. It's more satisfying to stew about what others have done to us -- and how much they'll regret it one of these days. Not that we would personally seek retribution, mind you, but we wouldn't protest if the Lord corrected them with a little extra gusto.
Most painful of all is the hurt sometimes inflicted on us by our own children. Shakespeare understood: "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!" lamented King Lear after being deceived and humiliated by one of his two no-good daughters. Of course, Lear foolishly rejected his third daughter, who was faithful and true, so ingratitude flows both ways.
A few other quotations on the subject:
-- "Do you know what is more hard to bear than the reverses of fortune? It is the baseness, the hideous ingratitude, of man." -- Napoleon Bonaparte
-- "Most people return small favors, acknowledge medium ones and repay greater ones with ingratitude." -- Benjamin Franklin
And from the great poet John Milton, a vivid observation that applies to the way many people observe Thanksgiving these days:
-- "Swinish gluttony ne'er looks to heaven amid his gorgeous feast, but with besotted, base ingratitude, crams and blasphemes his feeder."
Ouch. That last one hits close to home. The worst ingratitude is not what we express toward one another, but what we express toward God. Indifference. Greed. Rebellion. Prayerlessness. Bitterness. They all have their roots in ingratitude toward the One who owes us nothing but gives us everything -- including Himself. Continued...