The Roman philosopher Cicero once said that gratitude is the parent of all virtues. It’s not difficult to see how this would be true. Gratitude is a virtue which contains many other virtues. In order to be truly grateful to someone, or for something, you must also be humble, prudent and kind. Gratitude is the sister of generosity — the latter in the giving, the former in the receiving. If one is present in an interaction but not the other, there is a risk that soon both will be lost. Anyone who has ever tried to be consistently generous to a habitually ungrateful person knows how quickly generosity can morph into resentment if you aren’t careful.
This is why, as parents, we spend so much time teaching gratitude to our kids. After you take your child out for ice cream, or to the zoo, or put dinner on the table, there is that common refrain: “What do you say?” The child, prompted, shouts: “Thank you!” One day, hopefully, he will not need to be prompted anymore. In the meantime, you solicit the “thank you” not merely to teach good manners — though that is part of it — but on a deeper level, to inculcate a sense of gratitude in a child who, left to his own devises, will naturally take most things for granted. We teach gratitude not for our sake, but for theirs. Raise your child to be grateful and you will have raised him to be happy, well adjusted, and successful.
It is, then, no surprise that in a country where so many people are angry and depressed, there is also such a catastrophic lack of gratitude. Which brings us, finally, to Olympic athlete Gwen Berry. After achieving third place in the Olympic qualifiers for the hammer throw, Berry stood on the podium and turned her back on the flag as the National Anthem played. Towards the end of the song, she covered her head with a black t-shirt that said “Activist Athlete.” Apparently, all it takes to be an activist these days is to stand with your arms folded, pouting like a sullen child.
Explaining her stunt to reporters later, Berry said that she reacted that way because she felt she had been personally attacked by the Star-Spangled Banner (which is played every day at the same time). “I feel like it was set up. I feel like they did that on purpose, and I was pissed, to be honest,” Berry said, defending herself. “I was thinking about what should I do. Eventually, I just stayed there and just swayed. I put my shirt over my head. It was real disrespectful. I know they did that on purpose, but it’ll be all right. I see what’s up.”
To be clear, she’s not saying that her turning her back was disrespectful. Rather, she claims that the people running the event disrespected her by subjecting her to the unseemly sights and sounds of the American flag and its song. It is certainly not a surprise that an unpatriotic, whiney brat would also believe that the world revolves around her. Self-centeredness tends to come with the whole ungrateful package.
Of course, in a healthy country, an Olympic athlete who turns her back on her own flag would be kicked off the team and publicly reviled and shamed as the disgraceful, embarrassing jackass that she is. But we are not a healthy country, so instead she will be lionized as some kind of civil rights hero, standing up against oppression. What sort of oppression? What precisely is she so angry about? In what specific way has this person been at all victimized? What has America done to her to provoke her scorn? No clear answer is ever given to any of these questions. Indeed, many people claim to have deep grievances against the United States, yet few of them can ever explain what the grievance is, exactly. That’s probably because their grievance doesn’t stem from anything external. The source is internal, emanating from their own pathological ingratitude.
This country has given much to Gwen Berry, and now it even provides her an international forum to complain about it. Yet that is not enough. Nothing ever is. It is one thing to love your country, and be grateful for the blessings it has bestowed on you, while also working to improve on its flaws and imperfections. That is the attitude any patriot ought to have. But Gwen Berry, and so many like her, see nothing at all good in the country she calls home. She can’t so much as bear to look at the flag or to stand for two minutes with her hand on her heart while the Anthem is played. She won’t give even that much to her country, in exchange for all it has given her. And she certainly has a right to her petulance and ingratitude. All Americans can be as miserable, entitled and pouty as they like. But they don’t have any God-given right to carry on that way while representing the country they loathe in the Olympics.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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