Ingratitude: the ninth deadly sin; an addition to the eight we read about this week

Ingratitude: the ninth deadly sin; an addition to the eight we read about this week

Recently a group Chicago Now bloggers wrote a series of blogs about the 7 deadly sins, with one added by My Sports Complex, the architect of the series.  And, they were wonderful readings. My daughter Teppi Jacobsen who authors "When you put it that way" wrote about the sin of gluttony (click to see this as well as links to the other sins) and I loved it. Now tell we what else is a Father to say?

However, there is the ninth deadly sin of ingratitude.  In ancient Greece one of the most heinous crimes one could commit is that of ingratitude.  A dear friend of mine who owned a series of restaurants in Union Station was a Greek philosopher. He taught me a lesson over 30 years ago that I have followed all these years.  According to my friend John D., “there was a farmer who owned a work horse that served his family for many years. Through all kinds of weather the work horse was treated by the family as nothing more than a work horse.

When the horse became older and weaker the family released him into the wild to be on his own. The horse never learned how to be on his own, how to graze and find water and never slept outdoors all the time. The family was called to court and asked and answered many questions.  How long did you have your horse?   Was he a faithful horse?  Was your horse able to save your family from starvation? Why did you abandon him when he became frail and older?  The family did not answer any of the questions to the court’s satisfaction.  The judgment of the court was the family was ungrateful for the service and food the horse enabled them to eat. They were ordered by the court to have the horse return to their home and tend to him with proper care and love him to the day of his death.”

There is a lesson to be learned from this philosopher’s tale of ingratitude.  Think about it. We never seem to appreciate someone who has helped you and then can’t help again.  Instead of appreciation and gratitude for what he or she has done for you we lose sight of the graciousness and kindness of that person. Instead you start to "bad mouth" that same person who has been kind to you. Rather than thanking him for what he or she has done you choose the wrong course and "down" him.

I was director of special events for a Chicagoland not-for-profit organization and was responsible for raising funds to support their programs.  As any group there were times it was more difficult to raise funds but our goal was the same.  One of our staff came to me and said look at this; "he" only gave us half of what "he" normally donates.

With astonishment I admonished the staff member for two reasons. He showed ingratitude for the generous donations that we had received over the years. In addition, he was not there to complain or feel any unnecessary ill will but acknowledge the donors efforts. His job was to find someone or some group to become active and involved because that was the name of the game and that was his job. No bitching, but serious efforts to work harder and smarter to raise the additional funds.  He committed the sin of ingratitude and ungratefulness. Whether that was Chicago Then or Chicago Now the same philosophy applies. You all have your own experiences with ingratitude. This is the ninth sin.

Memories light the corners of my mind and I hope yours too!


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  • Great post and insight.

    I was first surprised by the series on "sin", because most do not believe "sin" exists anymore, even in a secular sense. Morality is not legislated, according to the common wisdom, but obviously if morality is not legislated, what is?

    Your post here reminds me of the parable of the widow's mite. She had little to give vs the rich man, but her gift was worth so much more in the eyes of God.

    Also, it strikes me as odd today how very few clerks or sales people in stores thank you for making a purchase. You thank them, and they say "no problem". Institutional ingratitude.

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