Manners Matter 7

By Ron Ross

Kids are ungrateful because that is how they were raised. At birth, if they were hungry, all they had to do was scream until their mother fed them. The baby had no concept of what the mother just went through to bring the child to full term and give birth, then start caring for his/her every need even before her contractions ceased. The baby wasn’t grateful for the feeding even though a quiet sleep followed.

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Fast forward eight years when Aunt Tilly brings over a gift for “my favorite nephew.” Do not be shocked if the 8-year-old kid grabs the present, rips off the pretty wrapping and then dashes out the door without even mumbling a thank you. He never had to say thank you for all those 3 AM feedings he demanded so why would he have to say thank you for a dinky little gift he never asked for?

Fast forward another decade. High school kids feel just as entitled to favors as do infants. A teacher told me that many of his students ask for letters of recommendation to use in their applications for colleges, scholarships or employment. He wrote, “Rarely do teachers ever receive a formal thank you note or even an email from these students or hear if they received the scholarship, job, etc.”

Ingratitude is not new. Author Max Lucado writes, “I believe ingratitude is the original sin. I believe if Adam and Eve had been grateful for the Garden of Eden they had, they would not have been so focused on the one tree they didn’t have.”

St. Ignatius takes ingratitude a bit farther and lists it as “…the most abominable of sins…”

I’m not sure about the sin thing, but I do know that ingratitude is bad manners. Not for a hungry infant with an empty stomach, but it is for a child, youth, or adult who has so much to be thankful for.

There is a word for someone who is ungrateful and it is not a very nice word: ingrate. You do not want to be called an ingrate. It means you are a self-seeking thankless boor. An ingrate is socially and spiritually blind, deaf and mute who sees no good, hears no good and speaks no good.

You might think you have little to be thankful for because you don’t have a three-car garage or because you can’t afford to upgrade your iPhone to the latest version or because you didn’t get to eat out last night.

But look what do you have? You have more money, more possession, more opportunities, more freedom, more comforts, more entertainment, and more of everything than most people in the world.

A Forbes magazine article published in 2013 made this observation: “…the typical person in the bottom 5 percent of the American income distribution is still richer than 68 percent of the world’s inhabitants.”

Start giving thanks for what you have. Tell your waiter thanks, the bus driver thanks, and the grocery store clerk thanks. Tell your teacher, coach, parent, child, pastor, gardener, friend, and everyone and anyone who ever does anything to you or for you “thank you!” How hard is that?

It is polite to show appreciation and even in this self-centered indifferent world, manners matter!

©2016 Dr. Ronald Ross

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