Monday, December 28, 2015

The Death of Gratitude

"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required..." Luke 12:48

Victor Davis Hanson has a wide ranging piece on how the virtue of gratitude is dead in the younger generation today.

Unfortunately, our modern "me" generation has forgotten gratitude and replaced it with the art of victimization. Contemporary Americans prefer blaming others -- parents, ancestors, their country, the world in general -- for their own unhappiness while patting themselves on the back for anything that goes well.

He's not wrong.

I see people who are put through college completely by their parents, and they then graduate with no drive to succeed in the world because they've had everything handed to them. We all know someone like that.

It's someone who's been handed everything, and as a result, they think that the world owes them everything. These people go around looking to blame others when they don't feel appreciated or loved enough, and they love to tout their own successes.

There's nothing wrong with having a strong family support network, but it becomes a toxic cycle if you don't appreciate what you're being given from your family or other benefactors who came before you, and you constantly demand more while not every stopping to think about where the source of the largess originates. It's a lack of gratitude, as Hanson says.

Each generation strives to succeed to a degree that their children will be better off than them or have more opportunities than them. We've come from so far from hardscrabble farmers scratching a living out of the soil or people who packed all their belongings into a wagon and headed west, it's almost like we're now reaching a state of diminishing marginal returns.

One of the most important intellectual aspects of maturity is an awareness of history and having respect for those who helped it happen. There are lots of good things about history that are willfully ignored. The focus seems always to be on how people living two hundred years ago don't share the same enlightened values of some 22 year old kid attending Oberlin.

Sure, there is plenty of bad, but when you weigh it against the good, there is a clear progress, and the whole narrative changes.

I'm going to do everything that I can to ensure that my children don't want for anything and have every opportunity to succeed in life, but even more important than that is instilling the virtue of gratitude and humility in them.

Gifts fade, but virtue is perpetual.

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