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Doctrine in dialogue format
THAT'S THE THANKS I GET
Though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
"Hi-de-ho everybody. This is Michael Jay Busybody in the home of Ms Grazie Merci, author of the Critic's Choice list of books expected to make it to the best seller list entitled Is that The Thanks I get? Ms Merci, I find the title of your latest book most compelling if I may say so. I think of the many times my mother said those exact words to me and my siblings. I've yet to read your book since it isn't out in print as yet, but the critics are raving about it in the press. Would you mind telling me a bit about the substance of your book and how you came to write a book of this nature?"
"I would be most happy to do just that Mr Busybody. The reason for the title of my latest tome is that I too heard these words as I grew up under my mother's roof. And unlike most people it seems, I gave her words much consideration, and what I've written are the findings of my research."
"That's very interesting Ms Merci. Then I take it you've spent a great deal of time reading what has been written on the subject of gratitude in order to write your views on the subject?"
"Quite the contrary Mr Busybody. You see, when I do research I don't look into what has already been said. What would be the advantage of that? I write my own experiences, and my reaction to the experiences I have encountered on life's long highway."
"You present original research then Ms Merci. That places me at a disadvantage as far as discussing the background of your research. Why don't you tell me and my listening audience about gratitude as you've found it to be?"
"I'll do just that Mr Busybody. You see, there are several types of gratitude, or what we call the giving of thanks to one another. For instance the circumstance that you said you grew up under. What your mother was saying is that you were unappreciative, at least not as appreciative as she expected you to be. Allow me to give you an extreme example of an occasion wherein a mother might legitimately express such an attitude. Your mother birthed you, she fed you, she in essence gave up her own life so yours could be the very best available. Then when you grew up and wished to be on your own, your mother felt she was being abandoned. She then exclaims, is that the thanks I get after all I did for you? In this case, no matter what you choose to do, other than give up your life for her as she had for you, your effort to appease her sense if gratitude would come to no avail."
"You must have been reading my life history Ms Merci. Yes, that sounds like my mother all right. But it seems to me, looking outside this extreme example, that a thank you is a thank you, however it's expressed. It's a show of appreciation. Is this not so?"
"No Mr Busybody, that is not so. Your very premise is faulty in that appreciation and the offering of thanks are two horses of a different color."
"I'm afraid you've lost me Ms Merci Please explain your meaning."
"Certainly Mr Busybody. It's a hard concept to grasp under the best of circumstances. That is why I felt the need to write such a book, to inform the public of what I see as a social deficit. We've seen one example of an expression of appreciation that comes to naught. Here's another in the same vein. You give a car to your son who has turned sixteen, old enough to drive on his own. The car you purchased is a very good source of transportation, but it is not new, nor is it one of the favored models of the day. You hand the keys to the boy and he replies, is that all I get, an old car that's out of fashion? Is that all the better you think of me?"
"Again I can relate to your example. However I fear I was the ungrateful son in the scenario you presented."
"I suspect we all can look back at our maturing years and find fault in the area of our show of gratitude. Now for another example. You take a client, or in your case a person of interest you wish to interview, to an expensive restaurant where you wine him and dine him as they say. He in turn says thank you. Have you therefore been adequately thanked?"
"I would say so. Yes, I would have to accept his thank you as adequate under the circumstances."
"All right, then let's up the ante as they say. The person you take to dinner is not a wealthy person but rather a starving man off the street. After the meal He says thank you with much enthusiasm. Has he demonstrated sufficient appreciation?"
"Again I would have to affirm that he has shown reasonable appreciation. But you see something I'm missing. What might that be Ms Merci?"
"You're only seeing one aspect of appreciation, and you're missing the most important aspect, which is common with all people of most any culture. I'll now give you a new picture of a similar situation. You have a friend who is incapacitated for whatever reason. He needs his exceptionally large lawn mowed. You, out of concern for your friend give up an opportunity whereby you might have the interview of a lifetime, something that would put you in the limelight as they say. You spend half your day mowing your friend's lawn. Your friend offers to pay you for the work you've done. What would be your reaction?"
"First of all I don't think I would have chosen such a day to perform such a menial task, but following suit with your line of reasoning, I think I would appreciate the fact that he wants to pay me, but I would refuse his money since it's a kindness I offered, not a service And kindness can't be purchased at any price."
"I would agree with you Mr Busybody. Trying to pay for a kindness only cheapens the gift. Now, your friend insists you take money because he doesn't want to feel obligated to you. What do you do?"
"I can understand his reasoning, but again, I wouldn't take his money. He has to accept what I gave as a gift, or reject it altogether."
"Again, a reasonable attitude on your part. Now you find that what your friend has in mind to offer as a show of appreciation for your service is five dollars. What is your attitude now?"
"Five dollars? For giving up an afternoon to do him a service, and miss out on a great opportunity as well? I believe I would feel highly insulted in that he valued my efforts and my concern for him so lowly. It would be a slap in my face if I may use that expression."
"Again I concur with you Mr Busybody. And with that, you now have what I see as the difference between a thank you and a mere show of appreciation."
"I have? I'm afraid I missed your point Ms Merci. Again, what is the difference that I'm somehow missing?"
"You've seen where a person can say thank you and not mean what they say. They are merely offering words, and expecting those empty words to satisfy their debt to the giver. This is in essence a thank you that is of no value whatever. Then you have the person who highly values the gift, but gives no value at all to the one who has given the gift. This is only half a thank you, and the least meaningful of the various forms of appreciation. Then we have the one who not only appreciates the gift, but the giver as well. This last kind of appreciation can be seen in the mother who tapes little Johnny's silly drawing on the refrigerator door. It's not the drawing she appreciates, but the one who made the drawing. And the child knows this."
"I can see what you're saying Ms Merci, but earlier you said there is a difference between the offering of thanks and of appreciation. Yet it seems to me you are combining the two in your examples. Would you please differentiate between the giving of thanks and appreciation?"
"Certainly Mr Busybody. Anyone can say thank you, and either mean what they say, or not even be aware that they've said the words. Appreciation on the other hand is the act of adding to the value of what is offered. We add to the value of a gift by using the gift and caring for it. And we add even more value to the gift when we care for the giver of the gift at least as much as they cared for us when they gave us the gift. In the first set of examples the recipient of the gift, rather than appreciate the gift, tends to look for and even expect more to be given to them. The indigent on the street corner holding a cardboard sign might be seen as an example of such a one, but the example is much farther reaching than that of the apparent. There are those we give to, that the more we give, the less it is appreciated, and the more that is expected. The unthankful son in my first example could well be classified in this category. In the second set of examples the gift and the giver of the gift is received, and appreciation is demonstrated, not in words, but in concern for the one providing the gift. Do you understand the difference now? Or is there still a fog over the understanding of the act of giving thanks?"
8This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Mat 15:)
15And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. (2Cor 12:)
21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, (Rom 1:)
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