Gratitude Is the Basis for Ethics

 

Androcles, a young Roman slave, sought escape in the wilderness from his unhappy life. Finding respite in a cave, he found himself face to face with a lion. The beast was anxious only for the removal of a thorn from his paw. Upon its extraction by Androcles, the lion submitted to the man, caring for him. After being captured as a runaway some time later, Androcles was sentenced to death-by-mauling within the coliseum. However, the lion let loose upon Androcles was one and the same who had benefited from the slave’s earlier kindness.  Instead of attacking the defenseless man, the lion lay at his feet, whereupon both were released by an astounded Roman governor.

The story of Androcles and the lion prompts this question, “How does gratitude change us?” I believe that gratitude is one of the chief pillars of life. Gratitude says that we give acclaim to Someone outside ourselves. Our response to this outside gift-giver is the basis for ethics: doing right by how we live. Doing right is proper response to gratitude. Doing right is based on remembering we live because of the gift given by Another. Doing right is a small response to a large endowment. Gratitude caused the apostle Paul to exclaim about Jesus, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” To acknowledge life as a gift of God, one’s whole focus and concentration is moved from ourselves to One outside ourselves.

Disciples of Jesus as Lord bow the knee to their Sovereign Savior both in response to Who He is as well as what He has done. Following His instructions is the least we can do to show our gratitude. “Androcles and The Lion” teaches the lesson that doing what is right is first motivated by someone doing right by us. Gratitude is the basis for ethics.

For Truth in Two, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, President of the Comenius Institute, personally seeking Truth wherever it’s found.

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  1. Max Admin
    Max
    @Max

    Amen

    • #1
  2. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    I heard long ago some quoting Dante? It has been so long, but the quote has stayed with me. “The lowest region of hell belongs to the ungrateful.” If you know the source, please let me know. I do not wish to misattribute.

    • #2
  3. Mark Eckel Coolidge
    Mark Eckel
    @MarkEckel

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    I heard long ago some quoting Dante? It has been so long, but the quote has stayed with me. “The lowest region of hell belongs to the ungrateful.” If you know the source, please let me know. I do not wish to misattribute.

    Dante does not specifically reference the ungrateful in the circles from The Inferno. And I do not know the work well enough to say whether or not he references your good thought therein. Ingratitude does impact everything; hence, my post here. Appreciate you thinking along with me.

    • #3
  4. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    Mark Eckel (View Comment):

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    I heard long ago some quoting Dante? It has been so long, but the quote has stayed with me. “The lowest region of hell belongs to the ungrateful.” If you know the source, please let me know. I do not wish to misattribute.

    Dante does not specifically reference the ungrateful in the circles from The Inferno. And I do not know the work well enough to say whether or not he references your good thought therein. Ingratitude does impact everything; hence, my post here. Appreciate you thinking along with me.

    I did a search for the quote; it looks like I may be guilty of quoting an apocryphal quote or my memory is really going dim through the years. Either is possible, or perhaps, likely. I think the quote has some truth in it; the most miserable human beings I know tend to share a quality of ungratefulness. I do not think I have met someone who exhibits joy consistently who is not a grateful person. Perhaps there is a direct correlation between gratefulness and joy. 

    • #4
  5. Mad Gerald Lincoln
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    The lowest circle of hell was reserved for those guilty of treachery. Which is very close to ingratitude.

    • #5
  6. David B. Sable Coolidge
    David B. Sable
    @DavidSable

    Very nice piece @markeckel.  Certainly I could and should take this in an individualistic way – when I stop being thankful for the good things given to me, I start feeling resentful or entitled.  

    But corporately as well – Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful to God for all our bounty.  Hanakkah/Passover for God’s work in the people of Israel.  Christmas (for Christians) of God stepping into time and space.  Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Independence Day for those who gave us the graces we enjoy as Americans.    As the rituals around these holy-days are secularized and less observed, we forget to be thankful to our downfall.

    But, of course, all I can control is me.

    • #6
  7. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    David B. Sable (View Comment):

    But corporately as well – Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful to God for all our bounty.  Hanakkah/Passover for God’s work in the people of Israel.  Christmas (for Christians) of God stepping into time and space.  Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Independence Day for those who gave us the graces we enjoy as Americans.    As the rituals around these holy-days are secularized and less observed, we forget to be thankful to our downfall.

    And on Halloween, be thankful for candy, saints, and the Reformation!

    But, of course, all I can control is me.

    And I’ve been having trouble even there, myself.

    • #7
  8. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    Mark Eckel (View Comment):

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    I heard long ago some quoting Dante? It has been so long, but the quote has stayed with me. “The lowest region of hell belongs to the ungrateful.” If you know the source, please let me know. I do not wish to misattribute.

    Dante does not specifically reference the ungrateful in the circles from The Inferno. And I do not know the work well enough to say whether or not he references your good thought therein. Ingratitude does impact everything; hence, my post here. Appreciate you thinking along with me.

    I did a search for the quote; it looks like I may be guilty of quoting an apocryphal quote or my memory is really going dim through the years. Either is possible, or perhaps, likely. I think the quote has some truth in it; the most miserable human beings I know tend to share a quality of ungratefulness. I do not think I have met someone who exhibits joy consistently who is not a grateful person. Perhaps there is a direct correlation between gratefulness and joy.

    Oh, I think a lost of the Inferno deals with folks who were ungrateful for one or another aspect of their lives.  Even suicides, who were ungrateful for life itself and who end up in the Wood of the Self-Murderers, part of the seventh circle (I think)

    The ninth circle is populated by all sorts of ingrates, from those who’ve betrayed family, or for money, or for politics, who’ve betrayed friends, and for those who’ve betrayed their benefactors.  It’s not much of a step from “betrayal” to “ingratitude,” and it’s a step that many students and scholars have made when talking about the ninth circle, often explicitly using the term “ingratitude” to describe the sin.

    In short, @wiesbadenjake, I don’t think your memory’s going dim at all.  You might have mistaken the exact quote, but the sentiment is exactly right.

    • #8
  9. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    I have heard that there is a saying in the Hawaiian indigenous religion:  “A monster cannot survive in an atmosphere of gratitude.”

    Which I think would also imply that, where gratitude does not exist, monsters thrive.

    I observe that people who talk endlessly about how much ‘privilege’ their class of people have, the emotion of gratitude seems to be completely absent.

    • #9
  10. dukenaltum Coolidge
    dukenaltum
    @dukenaltum

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    I heard long ago some quoting Dante? It has been so long, but the quote has stayed with me. “The lowest region of hell belongs to the ungrateful.” If you know the source, please let me know. I do not wish to misattribute.

    The lowest level of hell in Dante’s Inferno was for traitors.  Satan himself is trapped in a lake of ice while in his three mouths, he chews endless  on Judas Iscariot, Marcus Junius Brutus (betrayed Julius Caesar), and Gaius Cassius Longinus (betrayed Julius Caesar).  Betrayal for Dante is the greatest sin.  

    • #10
  11. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    dukenaltum (View Comment):

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    I heard long ago some quoting Dante? It has been so long, but the quote has stayed with me. “The lowest region of hell belongs to the ungrateful.” If you know the source, please let me know. I do not wish to misattribute.

    The lowest level of hell in Dante’s Inferno was for traitors. Satan himself is trapped in a lake of ice while in his three mouths, he chews endless on Judas Iscariot, Marcus Junius Brutus (betrayed Julius Caesar), and Gaius Cassius Longinus (betrayed Julius Caesar). Betrayal for Dante is the greatest sin.

    I am grateful for those here who are more literate than me; as a teacher I try to be most careful regarding the work and words of others and to know if I put something out there that is incorrect or misremembered it will be gently corrected is something I am most grateful for. Many thanks!

    • #11