Today is Part III of our four-part series on Ingratitude. Part I was an introduction to the discontentment of ingratitude, and last week we looked at blame. Today we look at how ingratitude breeds discontentment through condescension.
When I ride a train in the downtown core of a big city and see someone who is obviously experiencing homelessness, it’s embarrassingly easy for me to judge. They must be lazy. Or make bad decisions. Or not be smart. Or all of the above.
Now clearly these things may be true. But they may also be true for the man sitting next to me in the $2500 pin-stripped suit. But by assuming that those who appear to not be doing well brought it on themselves is really an extension of my own arrogance.
When we think we are the source of all the good we get, this leads us to imagine we are truly the masters of our own destiny. If we continue this assumption, then logically others must also be responsible for their own destiny.
If I attribute my success, my advancement, my accomplishments – to only myself – then others must be equally responsible for their apparent failure, stagnation, and lack of success.
This ingratitude-based score-keeping will never allow us to be content. We will look at those with more than us, and think it’s unfair. Look at those with as much as us – and figure we worked harder, so they don’t deserve it. Look at those with less than us, and be filled with disdain for their obvious lack of effort.
We simply can’t be happy with our situation in life if we feel we alone are responsible for it. We can’t be content for ourselves, and we can’t have any contentment when we look at others.
The next time you see someone you think is failing. Someone who seems stuck. Someone not succeeding. STOP.
How much of their situation are you assuming is their fault. Maybe it’s an appropriate amount – maybe not.
Is your desire to pat yourself on the back for all your wins – causing you to wag your finger at others for alltheir losses?
God of patience,
you put up with my prideful delusions,
when I think I have earned what I have.
Please forgive my contempt,
when I pretend others have brought all their misfortune on themselves.
Help me see all the ways you have helped me,
and how others may not have gotten the same headstart.
Give me grace, patience, and humility.