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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

Others may disagree, but I thought this was an interesting essay, even if I don’t necessarily agree with everything she said. I think the issues facing the west stem from a fundamental lack of gratitude for the freedom and prosperity we enjoy today. Maybe gratitude is the wrong word. We don’t appreciate our privilege, we don’t appreciate that billions of people face real starvation and deprivation every day. There is no nation in the world that has any measure of wealth without cheap, reliable energy. Yet large segments of society think we can shut it all down and life will keep chugging along. There are people imprisoned throughout the world for simply saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. Yet some people think their freedoms will last forever, even while they demand someone be fired for wrong speak. IDK. I think we take a lot for granted and that our privilege is a birth right.

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I agree. I find the modern habit of slating ancestors for their imperfections deeply ungrateful plus non-self-aware. And so many westerners seem to think our societies are endlessly resilient, not understanding how easy it is to f up complex/successful systems or how many unintended consequences there can be for eg mass immigration. They seem to think fundamental matters can be guided by technical/political decision making.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I agree with your observation about not appreciating freedom and prosperity, but I explain in terms of ignorance, not ingratitude. Increasingly people simply have no idea whatsoever that both these things require the constant collective effort of us all to maintain: there’s a weird belief that free markets and democracy are the enemy of what would be an even better system if only capitalists didn’t exist.

I saw a hilarious meme on Facebook recently where someone said “Why can’t we get rid of capitalism and just go back to buying and selling things from each other?”, and you can imagine the reactions to that. Or the apocryphal report I saw elsewhere that a young adult genuinely didn’t know that the meat sold in packages from supermarkets came from slaughtered animals: she had the odd idea that animal slaughter only still existed because some people liked being cruel to animals. How does a a person reach adulthood with such an insane level of ignorance? It is obviously an extreme example, but the point must be that it could only have developed inside a wider environment in which ignorance of how the world works is commonplace.

Anyway, you’re right of course.

Last edited 4 months ago by John Riordan
Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
4 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I am acquainted with someone who has had their driving licence since Harvey Cox wrote The Secular City. They hold a bachelor’s degree and a white-collar job. They understand that if they don’t put certain fluid into a tank the car won’t run. They believe that cars pollute, and would like them replaced by fully electric vehicles. Yet in their 60’s they were shocked to learn that within the engine block (of their “internal combustion engine”), controlled explosions were taking place. No clue.
But then, as Max Weber noted in “Politics as a Vocation,” this is normal under modernization. Modern Man rides the streetcar and (unless he is a physicist) cannot explain how it works. Or just ask anyone to describe why their laptop or smartphone does what it does. “Does [scientific progress] mean that we, today . . . have a greater knowledge of the conditions of life under which we exist than has an American Indian or a Hottentot?” The average person in a developed technological society knows less about their tools than the average person in a pre-modern, tribal situation. (Weber made this point in order to argue that there is no reason to suppose that religion or ignorance or superstition would diminish just because technology becomes more scientific.)

Last edited 4 months ago by Michael Cavanaugh
John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago

Very good point. And Max Weber’s prediction has come true in the form of the expansion of politics as superstition, which on the Left increasing seems to include ideas specifically chosen precisely because they are irrational, such as the notion that men can become women merely by asserting so.

Last edited 4 months ago by John Riordan
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
4 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

The Labour/Democrat Parties are no longer by people who use tools; Keir Hardie was miner.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
4 months ago

A friend of mine, a progressive MP in Canada, lives and works in Alberta, whose major exports is Oil and Gas, didn’t know that Gas, to put in your vehicle tank to run your car wasn’t made from gas.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
4 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

You can’t make this stuff up. The Federal finance minister in Canada, Chrystia Freeland, needed her parents to cosign here mortgage in 2013 because she was flat broke.
Smart women. I guess the Gordian knot thought is. Im broke, what can I do about it?

Hey, if everyone is broke Im not abnormal.

Pure genius.

Last edited 4 months ago by Bret Larson
El Uro
El Uro
4 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

I wonder what Margaret Thatcher would say about such a minister?

BradK
BradK
4 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

I’d be willing to wager that Ms. Freeland probably has a fabulous collection of designer shoes in her closet. Shoes are like crack to women, especially those who strive to appear “successful”.
For men, it’s not uncommon for younger ones to be leasing a high end automobile far above their station and paying more each month to rent their car than their apartment. Then complaining how they can never afford to buy a house.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

We don’t know what we don’t know.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago

Yes, it never ceases to amaze me that a belief in god exists in the modern world. It’s akin to still believing the world is flat.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Just because we,you,me,us,whoever don’t believe in God doesn’t make Him/Her not exist. That’s like saying being poor is horrible so I’ll deny there is such a thing as poverty. And God just is,he doesn’t have to be nicey-nicey,and He’s not. In fact God is a Bit of a b*****d and no one knows that better than me. It’s not about creating a pink fluffy God we like. It’s about acknowledging The Boss.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Really, Jane?!

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Yep.

Mark Duffett
Mark Duffett
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Knowledge of modern cosmology is actually one of the better arguments for the existence of God. It’s either that or a belief in the existence of a virtually infinite number of multiverses.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Duffett

Or not having a belief system at all. If you know something for a fact you don’t need to believe.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Duffett

What’s wrong with the idea of infinite realities within a multiverse?

I find David Deutsch’s view on this persuasive, namely that the existence of alternative realities which interfere at the quantum level with our own, goes from speculative to plausible as soon as the first quantum computation succeeds. Or to put it another way, if it is possible to extract actual work from counterfactual quantum events, those counterfactual events must exist somewhere. The most plausible explanation for where they exist is the alternative realities they inhabit, presumably with other versions of the quantum computer and its operators who deem our own reality to be one of the many counterfactuals.

That said, not accepting this model of reality in no way then forces a person to believe in God.

Last edited 4 months ago by John Riordan
Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Clare, you only say that because you have been kept in ignorance of the design-based premise of physics, chemistry and biology. Why do we assume that the universe must operate under uniform laws, as it does? To do so presumes an ordered universe. Where did that order come from? A vast intelligence.
All of the great historic scientific discoveries came from people who believed in a Creator, because of the design inference. It’s only in the last 170 years that humanists took Darwin’s limited theory, which discovered micro-evolution, and used it as a way to ensure their own ascendance through building the scientific establishment on an unprovable theory of macro-evolution. Ridiculing belief in a “man in the sky”, they gained a monopoly on power, because they could generate “truth”.
You will admit that you have never studied the science of Intelligent Design, refuting random chance as a vehicle for generating life. ID has a massive body of research work underpinning it in mathematics, chemistry and forensic biology. If superhuman design exists, a superhuman Designer exists.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

Where?

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

It never ceases to amaze me that people who don’t believe in god look down their nose at people who do. Don’t they understand that it’s the same thing. You know without the benefits.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Because they are so cloud topping super duper intelligent and ultra nicey-nicey too.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Yes, your post give me lockdown vibes. As an example, I was told by some friends in 2020 that lockdowns were necessary and they would just knuckle down and build back afterwards. Now that the invoice has come in it is not so palatable. Hmmm. People in the West take things for granted.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

Excellent example that is being memory holed. People actually thought you could shut down the economy and not skip a beat. Magical thinking indeed.

BradK
BradK
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Funny how those who pushed that narrative seemed to end up on the receiving end of the greatest wealth transfer is human history.
I can’t wait for the sequel.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  BradK

Worked for them.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  BradK

The most successful heist in history and they didnt even.hsve to blow off the bloody doors.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Lots of people,both economists etc and ordinary people knew better but that legacy media totally ran with the government approved line.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

The AIDS pandemic ,only it wasn’t called that then,taught THEM they had to rein in,buy up and CONTROL the media. Looks like it took them 40 years. I’ve seen veteran investigative reporter John Pilger in a film on YouTube and he more or less SAID THAT but in different words.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago

Lots of people warned us loudly and vociferously right at the first proposals to pay everyone to stay home that it was financially hazardous but they were denied by the politicians and rubbished in the established media.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago

Bank of England is bankrupt. Stony broke. That’s why our legacy media is all about Farage in the jungle and the gruesome twosome Mr and Mrs Hewitt.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The contemporary world aside, it never ceases to amaze me (given the vast time on planet Earth in which hominid life was just short nasty and brutish) I can just open a tap for cool fresh drinking water or a warm shower.
(But Stock’s point remains well-taken. It is a bit curious that so many people feel moved to say one or another version of: “thank G-d I’m an atheist.”)

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
4 months ago

Reading Kathleen’s article I too was thinking of hot showers. Because I lived for a few years in what we used to call ‘developing countries’ and did without our usual facilities, I still want to give thanks every time I get under the shower, or get into a safe, clean comfortable bed at night. It starts with feeling lucky but that slides into gratitude.
I imagined it came from a religious upbringing where we were constantly giving thanks to God. But could it be biological? From an early age, when we experience pleasure from another person or thing, are we somehow programmed to reciprocate and want to give pleasure back? An evolutionary way of forming beneficial relationships/communities? A way of expressing deference/gratitude to someone further up the social hierarchy who will favour us?

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago

I certainly have always found it odd that when there is a natural disaster like an earthquake s lot of atheists,the ones with a media voice,will start to cry in outraged fashion,” how could your God have done this,how could your God have allowed this to happen” and I would think,but you’re an atheist you don’t even believe God exists,even as a concept,so why are you the first to publicly acknowledge God and ascribe such power to Him.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Who says that? I haven’t heard any educated, intelligent person cry out “How could your god have let this happen” when there’s an earthquake. Isn’t it you lot who cry out “god why hast thou forsaken me”.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Bloomin Eck. Back when I listened to the BBC I heard it all the time.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Except maybe they don’t. They could simply put their observation into a hypothetical (modus tollens): 1) if G-d existed, this would not happen 2) this happened 3) therefore G-d does not exist. To assume that surd evil falsifies the proposition that G-d exists does not rest on affirming a prior proposition that G-d exists.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
4 months ago

There is no necessity for the first assertion. There could be an evil God. A negligent God. A distracted God. A psychotic one. How would we know? Because “He” told us so?

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago

God just IS. Like.clouds,like water,like annoying people. Just IS.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I agree, such things are ephemeral. They dont seem to know what they have.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I also think there is an issue with sort memories.
A lot of the people who lived through the 70s and 80s forget how comparatively tough those decades were and how many of the things we now expect and take for grated were rare luxuries back then

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago

I also think people believe the unrest and disruption we see today is unique in history. Bad sh!t happened in the ‘70s. Riots and protests all over. Multiple bombings. I struggle with this a bit. I’m deeply discouraged with the craziness gripping the west today. But is it any different than the ‘70s?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Yes, it’s more desperate and irreversible.

Last edited 4 months ago by Clare Knight
jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

It’s always been desperate.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I believe you are right. There was still in the 70’s an underlying sense of progress

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

A number of professional historians have decided that the era from 1945 to 2010 (my choice of end year as I think that is when the switch was flipped) but that 60 odd years (most of many of us lifetimes) was an anomaly in human history rather than the norm most of us who lived in it thought it was. I think they are right. They say,and I see it happening,our society is being transferred back to a feudal basis,albeit with tech and entertainment.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago

Tough In what way? I suspect the Middle Ages were tough.

AC Harper
AC Harper
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I agree. I offer as a supporting thought that good news doesn’t sell newspapers, bad news does. And since we are fed such volumes of news nowadays the drip, drip, drip, of bad news is bound to affect people, including their expectations.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
4 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I do worry about the rise of NGOs and the erosion democratic participation in the policy making process.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Worth the worry. It’s pernicious.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Worry is quite literally worthless except as a prelude to action.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I don’t agree with that “if it bleeds,it leads” idea and I think a lot less people don’t like it either.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Yes, surely the relentless bad news has a huge effect. We all feel invested in things we have no ability to affect. Its not helpful, its distracting and agitating, and its really not necessary in our lives most of the time.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Yes. I forgot to add I’m my post that “we” collectively take so much for granted. On the other hand it can grate if another person suggests you should be grateful to life,the universe and/or God (in whatever cultural story version)
when the good fortune you are enjoying is not the result of random luck or even hard work ALONE but is from careful and strategic planning,marshalling of ones resources,hours of studying ones finances plus ones payments out and careful shopping,seeking the best deals for furniture etc and as a result of YOUR OWN EFFORT you live well it is grating to be told by an observer (probably jealous and envious) that it’s all random (and probably unjust luck) that you live so well while they struggle.
But I am (privately) thankful to GOD who I do believe in for equipping me with a brain that can do this and also is capable of grasping that a book of Bronze Age literature is not my title deeds to anyone’s house.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
4 months ago

“Let not your eye rest on that which displeases you” said old Marcus Aurelius. And you know, the old boy was right.
Bad news sells and good news doesn’t. It’s a simple, but depressing truth. So we’re constantly battered by bad news from all angles simply to get our attention. But it’s up to us how much notice we choose to take of it all.
Personally I don’t get past most of the news headlines – A quick look at those, mentally stripping out the hyperbole, and factoring in the likely political preferences of the writer – and I’m set for the day.
Gratitude and happiness are best practised in private, in an entirely non-performative manner. Hanging onto a resentment can be likened to hanging onto a red-hot coal while waiting for someone to throw it at. And indulging anger is like drinking poison, and hoping that the other person will die.
Have a good day. Keep your own counsel, and don’t waste your life.

Last edited 4 months ago by Albireo Double
Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
4 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Two monks were traveling in the rain down a muddy town road. Around a bend, they found a beautiful girl in a kimono unable to cross. One offered his help, picked her up and carried her over the mud. After the monks had reached an inn later, the second turned to him and scolded him for dangerously becoming involved with the girl, and the first replied, “I left the girl back there. Why are you still carrying her with you?”

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
4 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

I love the Aurelius quote. More and more I try to make a guiding principal online – particularly when the issue is one over which I have no influence.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

I just don’t bother with news now. This idea of being “well informed” was a scam anyway. I sadly hear some news as even classical music stations have to have a “news” update on the hour. I watch gardening etc on YouTube. I take Voltaires solution,I cultivate my garden

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Sounds lovely Jane, but where are you gardening? I’ve just come in from toiling in mine, on a day forecast to be 39c – and we’ve had a week of this – and not even summer yet! Gardening here (the lettuces are a challenge) is a Sisyphean task, yet I still feel lucky/gratitude for having a garden at all.

R M
R M
4 months ago

One thing I find irritating is the performative gratitude of some celebrities. Like a young actor with a big hit film who is “so grateful” in every interview.

It’s PR scripted as a pre-emptive tactical apology for being successful, so as not to offend those who are outraged by success. You can imagine the PR briefing: “Look, you’ll get the money and fame but make sure you act like its a complete surprise and, oh my how embarrassing, this really could have happened to anyone. Otherwise people will start accusing you of privilege.”

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
4 months ago

We could also stop making official apologies for things done in the past.
This started, for me, with Blair’s pointless apology for the Irish famine.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
4 months ago

For me that ‘worm’ John Major handing back The Stone of Scone to the ever needy Sc*tch.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago

Scots not Scotch.

John Dee
John Dee
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Scotch has been used since time immemorial as equivalent to Scots and Scottish. It’s only recently that the embargo on Scotch (other than for ‘whisky’ and ‘eggs’) has been attempted. Since I class that along with someone trying to control my use of personal pronouns, I ignore it.
In the spirit of fairness, I don’t object to the use of ‘sassenach’ instead of ‘English’.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
4 months ago

I still feel the need to apologise for Blair

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
4 months ago

I’m grateful to my maths teacher, Mr Field, who managed to make maths fun for all pupils.

Last edited 4 months ago by Caradog Wiliams
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
4 months ago

Resentfulness is psychologically more destructive than gratefulness. In that sense gratefulness is the antidote to cure resentfulness.

The descendants of slaves in the US who reflect on their good fortune in being born into a highly successful and rich nation where their prospects are much greater than the corrupt poverty stricken nations their ancestors came from will be psychologically better off than those that resent the suffering of their ancestors and the fact that the prospects of others in their country might be better. .

The enraged stop oil activist who is resentful that their elders have stolen their future by their consumption might be better off if they are grateful that they live in comparative prosperity as a result of that consumption and creation of the past and look to take practical steps to improve their future and ameliorate the downsides.

Gratitude has positive potential resentment the seeds of destruction.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

*Not without foundation but I suppose you can also see why you mightn’t be the most welcome messenger to American blacks on this one (unless you are one yourself, in which case the message would be a little less unwelcome) even those among them who’d agree with you in principle.
And when we advocate gratitude for others we should also look into the mirror of our own thankfulness or lack thereof. At times, I know I can be insincere or hypocritical in this way by not doing that myself.
Do white folks like being told by others–non-white or not–that they have an inherited privilege or social advantage that they haven’t earned as individuals? If not, why not?
*Your words are…

Last edited 4 months ago by AJ Mac
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I am in no way resentful that I am told that I have inherited social advantages because I am white because I haven’t. I have certainly inherited social advantages for which I am grateful but the whiteness of my skin has nothing to do with it. It is down to my ancestors striving in a culture that rewarded intellectual and organisational enterprise. The amount of melanin in their skin was mere happenstance of no importance.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

What preening and self-soothing nonsense! So your bone-deep inherited superiority isn’t racial, but situational and characterological? Can others acquire your generational virtue without quite literally being you?*
Have you tapped the “positive potential” of gratitude yet?
*Especially the descendants of slaves, who come from a conquered and less-enterprising gene pool, just like some of the peoples of Europe.
It sounds like other people need to be more grateful–according to the “happenstance” of their skin color–but not you. How fukken convenient.

Last edited 4 months ago by AJ Mac
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Your response to my comment seems shot through with a certain destructive resentment in as far as it attributes to me “preening”, “ bone deep inherited superiority” and “generational virtue” from a text that simply denied that I might be resentful to be told I had inherited social advantage from being white. The point I was making was that I, like many, have indeed benefited from the the what some of my ancestors have done in the context of a favourable societal background for which I am grateful but the pigmentation of my skin is irrelevant.

All of us will have advantages and disadvantages derived from our individual ancestral past. Many poor people with white skin will have started with scant advantage from their ancestry compared with say the well off descent of a dark skinned Nigerian princely house that might have owned slaves in the past and who did not get transported to the United States. Just be grateful for the particular advantages your forefathers have provided you and leave off resentment that others might have inherited greater advantages. Don’t get caught up in resentments about attributes like skin colour.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

African black skinned people captured by other black skinned African people and sold to traders were sent in two directions (after c.1400) to the Arab world,the Ottoman Empire or to the West ,to the Americas. Putting aside all the grimness,there are millions of descendants of the African diaspora in the Americas. There are NONE in the East. And I do not think Black Lives Matter and their ilk have A CLUE why.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Everyone, or nearly so, knows about “black on black” slavery. White people were enslaved by Arabs too. Those among their descendants–of each original complexion–who reproduced, “blended in” to the local gene pool. Or do you have an explanation or clue that your willing to state, not just insinuate?
Of course every human life matters, including black ones, putting aside the capitalized movement whose tactics and stances most here don’t agree with. including me. Are you tarring every person of a certain color according to their “ilk”, or just making an unnecessarily vague and circuitous point about the activist group called BLM?

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Wot r u on about. I’m simply citing universal castration of all male entrants into slavery in the Arab world,both white and black. Now tell me it never happened,yawn.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

I wouldn’t say “none”. Why do you suppose the general color of skin throughout the middle east is darker than Europe?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

Kathleen, I love your work. You are an important voice influencing good and right action in the “gender wars”.
And. You are way off the mark with this essay. Don’t be a kill joy. The generalization is unworthy of your intellect.
I am American, a first generation immigrant and am utterly and overwhelmingly grateful that the US gave me a home away from the violence, extremism, corruption and chronic dysfunction permeating my nation of birth.
Thank you USA. For everything.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

That’s interesting! Where are you from?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
4 months ago

Van Diemen’s Land.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I think you’ve misinterpreted her, with regard to “generalisation”. In doing so, you make a point which turns out to be a straw man argument. Whose intellect is wanting here? Yours or hers? It’s yours.

Last edited 4 months ago by Steve Murray
Terry M
Terry M
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

You are the exception that proves the rule. And you miss the point that more people are obsessed with grievances than are grateful.

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

This is where she is writing as a Brit and not an American as yourself. Brits (and Europeans) don’t look at the world like you do. Her points still stand though.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

Exactly. There’s a big cultural difference.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

You don’t live in Portland Oregon then

J Bryant
J Bryant
4 months ago

This article reads like an essay a clever philosophy undergraduate would write on their way to a top-class degree: “Alright, Stock, give me three thousand words on gratitude by next Thursday, and none of that sentimental nonsense.” Whether the writer believes what they’re writing is perfectly irrelevant. It’s the intellectual flourish that matters.
No doubt gratitude, or caring, or sympathy, or any positive emotion or state of mind can be corrupted and weaponized. Many wicked things have been done in the name of caring for others. But Thanksgiving Day isn’t about that. It’s not even really about the public show of gratitude among your relatives and friends at Thanksgiving dinner. At bottom, it’s a personal recognition of the many, many things we have to be grateful for, from relatively trivial matters such as unseasonably fine weather, to a major health problem averted, or the flourishing of a family.
Of course, the author understands this, and I’m not entirely sure she wants us to take her clever essay too seriously, or to find in it encouragement to cast a cynical eye on genuine thanksgiving. For me, taking a moment once a year to privately reflect on my numerous blessings is profoundly therapeutic. Still, once again, the author has proved her first-class ability to line up pretty words in rows, and for that I assume she’s grateful.

Last edited 4 months ago by J Bryant
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Excellent. You saved me the effort of a lesser reply along similar lines, for which I’m thankful. Much substance alongside your intellectual flourish here.

John Dee
John Dee
4 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

So, you’re not only criticising the article, but also intuiting what Stock herself felt about it?
I don’t hold any strong opinions about the article, and have no idea why it was written.
One thing that does occur to me is that those in the US should celebrate their reasons for Thanksgiving while they still exist, since they’re being eroded at an accelerated pace.

Harry Child
Harry Child
4 months ago

The most important sentence in the article for me is ‘ Declinism and doom-mongering are in vogue everywhere you look; and, though they take on different flavours on the Left and Right, the net result is still bloody depressing.’ And where do we get this constant competitive victimhood other than from journalists and the media? We are told of the rise in mental health issues among young adults especially girls – what do you expect?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago
Reply to  Harry Child

Precisely. The media has moved beyond merely reporting the news. Most of it these days is telling us how we should feel about world events, rather than leaving it up for us to decide. Unfortunately, I have the horrible habit of acting contrary to public opinion, yet am also paranoid enough to wonder if we’re not all being wound up on purpose.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

of course we are being wound up on purpose ! the better to keep our attention away from other far more important realities ie that most of us have been co-opted in to a flat- out factory that dominates most of our lives !!

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
4 months ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

helter skelter indeed ! – and the devil IS taking the hindmost who cant compete …………..best nobody mentions CAKE!

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
4 months ago

Why can’t Biden just be grateful to be in frame with a bigger turkey then he is. And yes, I’ll be as great full as I like for all the people in my life.

Last edited 4 months ago by Bret Larson
N Forster
N Forster
4 months ago

 â€œWhen gratitude loses its moorings from a proper relation to another person’s intention and responsibility, we end up with nice vibes. When resentment does the same, we end up with increasing amounts of conspiratorial rage.”

Rage comes about when we lose the balance between compassion and equanimity – that we want to see or experience less suffering, but we fail (or refuse) to acknowledge that suffering is part of life. For everyone. We see suffering, don’t acknowledge its universal nature and often flip between grief and rage. Standard behaviour for both our progressive blue haired youth, and nostalgic old gammons like myself.
Likewise, if we acknowledge suffering without developing compassion we end up with indifference to suffering. You’ll see many a person involved in the culture war acting with total indifference (or even pleasure) to the suffering of others if that others’ views do not align with their own. 
As for gratitude, there are several ideas or concepts we can reflect upon to bring about sympathetic joy for ourselves and others. Like our own good fortune. To consider “how fortunate we are” is actually more use than “I am grateful for.” 
Another is to reflect on our our own good actions, speech and thoughts, if we do, sympathetic joy can arise, which in turn gives rise to renewed energy. Likewise with the good action, speech and thoughts of others.
This is more useful than gratitude, as it can be applied to others, and especially now the notion of gratitude can be tied in with the concept of privilege, which is so easily weaponised against a person to try and induce guilt in a person for having anything that another might not.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  N Forster

When the BTL comment is better than the article.

M Shewbridge
M Shewbridge
4 months ago

Another excellent essay.

It’s like the only conscious agents in the world are malevolent. Good comes from the universe and bad comes from specific people.

But that’s really just an illogical smokescreen to hide something unpalatable: I am good and all other conscious agents are bad. When I thank the universe, I’m really just thanking myself, but I can’t say that on social media!

I don’t think most people will ever understand that there is a simple solution. Make everything less about the self. Immerse the self into something bigger and devote the self to that. I’m an atheist so I know full well the “something bigger” doesn’t have to be religious.

But I just don’t think people can see what that means; they only see it through the lens of self.

“But what’s in it for me?” Now, of course, there does have to be a perceived reward for deliberate actions, but the reward is too abstract for those conditioned to expect tangible prizes. It’s really just a dissolution of the ego and a feeling that my life – the experience itself, is more important than me.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s a beautiful thing that I’m genuinely grateful for.

Last edited 4 months ago by M Shewbridge
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
4 months ago
Reply to  M Shewbridge

Perfectly expressed.

Michael Cavanaugh
Michael Cavanaugh
4 months ago
Reply to  M Shewbridge

“When I thank the universe, I’m really just thanking myself, but I can’t say that on social media!” A take on humblebrag that might have come from Feuerbach. Bravo.

Saul D
Saul D
4 months ago

Thankfulness connects to a sense of hope, magnified in contrast to grievance with its sense of despair. Consequently, Thanksgiving is imbued with American optimism and dreams for the future.The British are more sardonic and ironic – the great celebration is the failure to blow up Parliament – hence ‘chin up’ and ‘keep b*****ing on’.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
4 months ago

trying to conjure up a feeling of thankfulness towards no one in particular has always seemed to me a bit like attempting to experience remorse for something I know I haven’t done.

In which case, be thankful towards real specific individuals, for clear reasons, and reap the benefits. It’s free, and a skill which can be improved with frequent practice so that it becomes relatively easy and almost second nature.
I think one problem is that gratitude can seem, especially in the west, like an admission of past weakness; that you couldn’t achieve something on your own, and needed the help or good will of another person. Well, that’s just how it is. But it’s not necessarily a debt to be “paid off” with feelings of inferiority. It’s an acknowledgement that the kindness and skill of others is real, beneficial, and apparently eternal. Who wouldn’t want to benefit from that?

Susie Bell
Susie Bell
4 months ago

Gratitude used to be expressed as thankfulness for a loving God. No more, we alone, each individual, is now our own God. It is hardly surprising that every small affront to our supremacy is treated as a great injustice. A lack of a perspective outside of ourselves is going to become very, very destructive.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago

“Against a secular backdrop, trying to conjure up a feeling of thankfulness towards no one in particular has always seemed to me a bit like attempting to experience remorse for something I know I haven’t done.”

The latter though is exactly what the cultural marxists are trying to impose upon us all. White guilt, decolonisation, checking privilieges – it’s all the same heap of bullshit arbitrarily rebranded according to whoever is the next target.

In general though this is a typically insightful and well-expressed article from Kathleen Stock. I’d like to expand on the observation in the final paragraph by pointing out that the phenomenon, while it may be finding novel forms of expression in our decreasingly happy culture, isn’t new. Economists have been observing the principle of concentrated losses vs dispersed gains for decades now, in fact Frederic Bastiat arguably came to the same insight 200 years ago.

It’s not just esoteric economics either: it’s an everyday concept too, for example where people who get a new job or a pay rise almost always claim it as a personal victory, but when they lose a job it’s usually the economy: here the person in question refuses to admit that good fortune was external to and not dependent upon themselves while holding that if it’s bad fortune then they are the victim of forces they don’t control – exactly as the article above describes.

And this isn’t merely a personal foible shared by many that is only of concern to sociologists: it affects important policy decisions all the way to the top, where policymakers will almost always avoid concentrated losses likely to make the news even when a detached analysis shows that the dispersed gains associated with them are greater. Hence why governments of all kinds are under constant enormous pressure to regulate and redistribute in favour of special interests – eg protectionist measures – even when they know that on balance this makes everyone poorer.

Last edited 4 months ago by John Riordan
Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence
4 months ago

Unmoored gratitude is meaningless.
This column keeps getting better and better. I’m enjoying the bite, Dr Stock.

Craig Henry
Craig Henry
4 months ago

Sorry you don’t have Someone to be thankful to.

R M
R M
4 months ago

Caption competition:

“Look at that horrible turkey neck!”

“Which one?”

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
4 months ago
Reply to  R M

Gawd, I’m fighting it tooth and nail!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
4 months ago

More than a century ago that great Imperialist, one Cecil Rhodes Esq, made this famous remark: “Remember that you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first prize in the lottery of life.”

I and my ‘gang’ have certainly never forgotten this, and are eternally grateful to Rhodes and many other splendid fellows for making the world our ‘oyster’ and encouraging us to plunder it so enthusiastically. ‘Dives in Omnia!’*

(*Riches in everything!)

Christine Novak
Christine Novak
4 months ago

Kathleen, while I can appreciate any number of points made in this article, I take exception to one. Thanksgiving has historically been about giving thanks TO SOMEONE IN PARTICULAR (God), regardless of the external circumstances. It’s the best way to stay sane.

Arthur G
Arthur G
4 months ago

“Against a secular backdrop, trying to conjure up a feeling of thankfulness towards no one in particular has always seemed to me a bit like attempting to experience remorse for something I know I haven’t done. In both cases, all I can do is make what I hope are vaguely appropriate facial movements, and pray I get away with it.”

If secularism renders you unable to be thankful for the wonderful lives of ease and plenty all we educated Westerners have, you should question the underlying secularism rather than the need to be thankful.
Just compare how we live to our grandparents and we should be permanently grateful.

Last edited 4 months ago by Arthur G
Susan Scheid
Susan Scheid
4 months ago

I particularly appreciated this observation: “But just as merely noticing the good things in life doesn’t automatically mean feeling grateful for them — because a range of quite different emotions might accompany an identical observation — so too finding bad things in life need not automatically mean feeling aggrieved. Other attitudes are also available: detached curiosity about root causes is one, and stoic resignation another. One’s first thought does not always have to be about whose fault it probably is.”

We would be a lot further along if, as individuals and as a society, we did a lot more of exercising our brains in response to a problem, rather than rushing to cast blame. In this regard, Dr. Stock, I had reason to think of you once again when I read that, in my home town, “protesters” glued themselves to the roadway of the Thanksgiving Day parade. I suspect they’ve given root causes very little thought, if, indeed, they’ve bothered to think at all.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Susan Scheid

They’ve found someone to blame. Scapegoating fills the need to have someone or some tribe to blame for it all. It makes life so much easier.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Susan Scheid

I found that same passage especially weak. Detachment and resignation are the alternatives? Ouch! That hurts my sensitive little spirit.

Nardo Flopsey
Nardo Flopsey
4 months ago

The critical error of the left [but not confined to the left] is the failure to see that progressive ideology, which was revolutionary in the Hippie era, is an Overton window which their children and grandchildren must keep pushing to extremes in order to distinguish themselves from the prior generations.
The critical error of the right [but not confined to the right] is the failure to see that the totalitarian newspeak of the modern left is not in fact an “I told you so” moment. The paranoia of an earlier generation of conservatives to oppose gay marriage, abortion, and feminism was unjustified. What in fact happened was that the original civil rights activists were satisfied with their modest goals being achieved. But their descendants–specifically radical self-promoting fringe activists–saw the earlier victories as a floor for more demands, rather than a ceiling of equality with mainstream society.
So what is unfolding now is a conflict between the left, who refuse to admit that they long ago passed the goalposts of reasonable equality, and right wing resentment toward what they misunderstand as a long-term agenda [like the Marxist long march through institutions]. Rather than a concerted effort spanning decades, I think this is just a natural progression; like how a car with one low tire will pull to one side [more radically as the tire runs out of air].
There is some extremist pushback from the right, such as the anti-abortion radicalism of politicians who seem to be out of touch with the majority of their constituents, or the odd [to me] upsurge in antisemitism from white supremacist orgs [although this pales in comparison to antisemitism from the radical Muslim world]. I confess I don’t really understand how either of these trends is a good strategy for building a coherent conservative base.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
4 months ago

Empathy was conceived of in a weird way, even by its modern-day inventor, Carl Rogers.

He described it as a kind of friendly, but non-intevening accompanying or ‘shadowing’ by a counsellor, as the client walked around and examined various bits of his psyche.

And Rogers was certainly good at it. There’s a great video of him using it in practice in California in the 60s or 70s on Youtube.

But removed from the therapeutic context, empathy seems like little more than being followed around by a friendly, but not especially smart (or useful) spaniel.

Last edited 4 months ago by Dumetrius
Amelia Melkinthorpe
Amelia Melkinthorpe
4 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

At least you’d be out in the fresh air with your spaniel …

Amelia Melkinthorpe
Amelia Melkinthorpe
4 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

I’m working towards a counselling qualification (don’t all yell at me at once!), and we’re looking at Rogers at the moment. His ideas were that the person being helped would be able to work things out for themselves, if the counsellor/helper just gave them space to think about things, asked open questions, showed positive regard for them without judgement, and was empathetic.
Empathy is having someone with you in a situation, whereas sympathy is the “At least you have/haven’t …” approach – a lack of understanding, merely an expression of pity, or “there, there, don’t go on so …”.
Rogers had a good approach.

David B
David B
4 months ago

I’ve benefitted hugely from a therapist’s Rogers’ person centred approach. Admittedly I didn’t know that’s what it was when I started years ago. I had a lot to get through and I for one am grateful for/to that practitioner for helping me.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  David B

And he’s grateful for the huge amount of money you paid out.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago

Those are very one-sided notions of both sympathy and empathy, which are not mutually exclusive. While sympathy is founded on one’s similar experiences, an empathetic outlook can enable us to see outwardly dissimilar lives and situations as not so very different from our own, thus opening up a more sympathetic channel at the same time.
In isolation, empathy risks becoming either a debilitating weepiness that merely ingests the trauma of another without lessening it, or the kind of detached, hands-off approach that may be suitable for a psychiatrist’s office–and some other situations–but not every face to face encounter.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It’s true that when used unskilfully in the therapy context, attempts to display empathy can seem dismissive, for example when the counsellor keeps on robotically repeating back to the client what they’ve just said, with the addition of an ‘…mmmm’ to the end of his sentences. I think there are certain kinds of people who have to be careful about using it, their voice and demeanour isn’t suited. Requires quite a degree of self-awareness too.

Last edited 4 months ago by Dumetrius
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Interesting point. Not everyone ha the right demeanor to be a therapeutic empath–nor a chaos-fueling demagogue.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

You are either empathic or you’re not.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I’m not! I dont want to be. I don’t intend to be.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

It’s obvious you’re not.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Maybe so. But a person can learn to be more empathetic, or become less so, at least in certain ways. Otherwise you make empathy into a virtue (or quality) that is merely inborn–and primarily female. One can certainly learn to be more empathetic. I have. (Shockingly, I used to be even colder).
An Empath is born, like a true Poet. But one can learn to be more empathetic, or poetic. Truly empathetic–or visionary–spirits are rare. But a man woman or child can “cultivate” greater vision, or increased empathy. Or else it is no virtue at all, but something merely inherited, or sadly unreceived, like great compassion or kindness, To deny that gradual or aspirational pathway seems lacking in a certain kind of empathy to me.

Last edited 4 months ago by AJ Mac
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I don’t understand what you’re saying about empathy being detached and hands-off. It’s just the opposite.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Not always. It can be intellectualized, or remain inactive at the level of the helping hand, even when it does reach the heart. Of course one might claim that that isn’t true empathy. But I think that is a genuine version of empathy, one that can be too abstract or theoretical when it is not at least sometimes joined to compassion and service. An empathetic therapist (or doctor, nurse, policeman, or EMT) needs to observe a certain mental detachment much of the time, or he or she will quickly become overwhelmed and unable to function well.
You seem to be talking about the radical path (or “inheritance”, in your framing) of the extreme Empath. The rest of us can still get a taste.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

To be born an empath is a lot of responsibility. Feeling everyone’s feelings can be quite draining.
Empathic, feeling types are not drawn to being cops. Thinking types are not empaths. Perhaps they can learn to be sympathetic but we’re born as we are, like being introverted or extroverted. There’s only so much you can change.

Last edited 4 months ago by Clare Knight
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I agree they are not drawn to policing– though I don’t think it’s impossible for them to end up there–but certainly teaching and the medical fields.
I don’t agree that thoughtfulness* itself and being an empath are mutually exclusive, though I do get the non-correlation you are keen to focus on.
You can’t learn to be truly selfless (or humorous or serious etc.) if that is in some sense against your nature. But these qualities are not always fixed in place in the way you insist they are, and incremental improvements are nearly always possible.
Figurative distances of a thousand kilometers can be travelled a centimeter at a time, with enough determination (not deterministic resignation), support, time, and maybe luck. Over time–and sometimes rapidly, as with a profound spiritual experience–people very often change into a much better (or much worse) version of their seemingly inalterable selves. By the time they are very old, many humans are very nice or very mean in a way that is less common among the young. Eventually, it becomes too late indeed.
Still, even if ten thousand of our respective best days were strung together, it’s a safe bet that neither one of us would become a Radical Empath.
*or perhaps hyper-rationality

Last edited 4 months ago by AJ Mac
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Speak for yourself. And feeling types aren’t in the medical and teaching field they’re in the arts. “Thoughtfulness” is not being a thinking type, in your head. Thoughtfulness is an act, a thinking type being.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I don’t think the word Empathy existed in Nietzsches day but he wasn’t very keen on.it. He made a good point that once poverty and weakness can demand your sympathetic attention,then it can be used as a weapon to cripple you. As at long last a majority of people are seeing how our natural compassion has been weaponised against us.
But I know this area of thinking is dangerous territory.

Shelley Ann
Shelley Ann
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

I take your point but compassion and empathy do not and should not exclude the possibility of saying no, that’s not acceptable or reasonable.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

But the reality of that quality–or lack thereof–quite certainly did exist. And Nietzsche is one of the least empathetic–or kind, or compassionate–humans who ever lived, at least among those who were intellectually brilliant and too influential, like he was, and is.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago

True empathy is the ability to feel what the other is feeling. It’s not something that can be cultivated.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Again: Yes, it can. It cannot be summoned from the void of a true psychopath or stolen from the aching spirit of a radical empath, but outside of such exceedingly rare instances, the needle can be moved in either direction.
I have tons of heartfelt opinion and anecdotal data to support my claim!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

But that’s all it is, opinion and hearsay and anecdote.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago

Did this guy not realize how many fundamentally stupid people there are and how many of them WANT to be told to take a particular course of action because when it inevitably fails (because they are irreversibly stupid) they can then blame their advisor and feel free of all stigma themselves. Like the woman who sends her life savings to the Nigerian Prince online who wants to marry her. He fooled her and took her in. He was ” so convincing” lol,so that proves shes not stupid. (Our biggest weakness is the desire to be loved but maybe if we didnt have it,lol,no more babies!)

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

I have to wonder if you ever reread your comments, Jane.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

No,I move on. When they come for me my very words will convict me.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Indeed they will!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

I totally disagree and it’s been my experience that empathy is something one is born with and can’t be cultivated.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Exactly

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

So you were born with very little of it and that’s your excuse? 😉

Last edited 4 months ago by AJ Mac
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

That’s nasty.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

It was a bit, I admit.

Paul T
Paul T
4 months ago

All this gratitude and thankful stuff is really people reciting their various “privileges” for all to see by sanitising whatever is being “gratefully” received – usually more privilege.

That is…if you accept that innate traits and who you are born to are “privilege” and not just the circumstances of the birth you neither asked for nor should be expected to apologise for.

John Riordan
John Riordan
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Exactly, it’s just fake-humble nonsense and I’m amazed that anyone is fooled by it.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Not guilt or apology, but duty: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required”.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I like that.

Paul T
Paul T
4 months ago

Really good article which I didn’t read before my previous post but which I had guessed. What actually happened to Susanna is that time passed, her emotions settled and her brain got over it just naturally because it wanted to regardless of any outward, or inner, pressure to conform to some stereotype of behaviour. It’s called resilience. We all have it to varying degrees. And then she got on with her life. This is essentially what happens to us all but we are narcissists so we dress it up with a load of post hoc rationalisations and by sharing the cod enlightenment experienced through the “journey”. This has always been so but we can now add, tragically, “for likes” when it is served up.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Please speak for yourself.

Paul T
Paul T
4 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Yes, I do. What point are you not making here?

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
4 months ago

The gratitude that is supposed to be felt and/or expressed during Thanksgiving is definitely not “towards no-one in particular”. I will not insult anyone’s intelligence by describing what Thanksgiving is based on. It is clear that it references a specific event – maybe it never happened exactly the way it has come to be remembered and canonized, maybe it got over-commercialized like everything else so the original meaning (and meaningfulness) started to fade, but that event, back in the past, and their participants, is what thankfulness is supposed to be felt for.

Ian Guthrie
Ian Guthrie
4 months ago

I’m thankful for professor Stock

Catherine Conroy
Catherine Conroy
4 months ago

A fine article, thank you. Gratitude to be should simply be a natural response to a personal and unexpected act of kindness and a desire to reciprocate in the future, although this need not be compulsory.
I know a few millennials who are so entitled to what they get that they miss out on the warm glow of gratitude when someone is kind or generous to them.
As for gratitude to what’s out there, definitely not and, has I been ‘Susanna’, given the conditions, I’d have had no qualms in thinking ‘glad he’s dead, it’s going to be hard to get that money back up but I’m moving on’. There’s nothing to be grateful for.
Still, although not religious, while reading the article I was reminded of the old serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”

Max Price
Max Price
4 months ago

How is gratitude a behaviour?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
4 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

When people make it “performative”.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Exactly: #look-how-grateful-I-am

j watson
j watson
4 months ago

Nice one KS, made us engage and think in a different way for a moment at least. Appreciated.

Gratitude towards others something we do everyday esp if we are responsible for anything that requires us to motivate others.

Gratitude for one’s ’lot in life’ sometimes something that can take a while to grasp. Did any of us have that perspective at 18 that we might now have in later life? Maybe a bit but it develops. And thus let’s recognise a truism – kids and young adults mature much as we did.

At same time pushing ‘be grateful for what you got’ the message always given by the more advantaged and vested interest. Pushing back against that what has driven progress through which nearly all of us have gained.

Last edited 4 months ago by j watson
David Morley
David Morley
4 months ago

In any case, it seems that we are all a bit like Susanna these days — desperately trying to bat away the incipient darkness by clinging onto thoughts of what isn’t already completely terrible or spoiled.

While simultaneously posting about our wonderful lives on social media. Strange days indeed.

jane baker
jane baker
4 months ago

I enjoyed reading this even though I mostly disagreed with the authors line of thought. I felt grateful when I woke up this morning,just now,in fact,partly that I had woken up at all,having reached an age when that is not a given,but also having actually slept,having reached an age when that is not a given. I think it’s good to feel gratitude privately for sunshine and flowers and the fresh air (I know this is Madeleine Bassettish) but when it’s yet another form of visible virtue signaling it is a bit dubious,even obnoxious. Like when everyone clamored for a Ukranian refugee as the latest most fashionable home installation. Seems like Palestinian Mums +babies are the wrong design,lol!!!

Richard Irons
Richard Irons
4 months ago

With the natural course of events, entropy ensures that things will fall apart and become chaotic. The fact we have a deomcracy, gas, electricity, medicine, society, is nothing short of miraculous. Some ponder the mystery of evil..It is equally legitumate to ponder the mystery that any good actually manifests – which it does.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross
4 months ago

“all I can do is make what I hope are vaguely appropriate facial movements, and pray I get away with it.”
To whom, pray tell?

Dark Horse
Dark Horse
4 months ago

If you deliberately repress difficult feelings which are entirely natural responses to life’s misfortunes and unfairness they don’t go away. They just sink into your subconscious and re-emerge in the form of illness. I am not a big fan of the cult of positive thinking. It is too monochrome. I prefer the Elizabethans who fully acknowledged the experience of melancholy and gave it its due in the form of music and poetry.
We exist to experience the whole range of emotions. To try and avoid the more difficult ones makes our lives poorer.

Jamie
Jamie
4 months ago

Read Peggy Noonan this morning in the WSJ and get with the program: we should ALL be thankful for Taylor Swift.

Margaret Ford
Margaret Ford
4 months ago

Another great article from KS to improve my Saturday morning. Very grateful!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
4 months ago

I often turn to the glass half empty or full to get me over the hump, except I often can’t remember which one is the being grateful one.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

Perhaps it comes down to a preposition. The focus now is ‘Thanksgiving for’ stuff/events/me. Not many permanent reasons to be thankful there!

Methinks the Puritans (but not them alone) we’re interested in “Thanks be to
”

Changes the focus (of Thanksgiving and life) somewhat!

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
4 months ago

“… we have long since given over our world to artificial agents that are far more powerful than us, and often indifferent to our welfare. For centuries they have roamed the earth and divvied up its resources. They are called states and corporations. People designed these machines to do what we ourselves cannot: indefinitely remember, organize and endure. Because of these qualities they can rack up (and occasionally dispense with) debt on a scale we can barely imagine, which allows the construction of major works, the waging of wars and the occasional programme designed for the common welfare. The state has general purposes, the corporation specific ones, but both are machines – automata that tick quite remorselessly away, sometimes grinding human lives in their gears. The term commonly used to describe our age is all wrong, argues Runciman: we do not live in the Anthropocene, an era defined by human domination; we live in the Leviacene, an era defined by these inhumane machines.”
https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/the-handover-david-runciman-technofeudalism-yanis-varoufakis-book-review-eric-rauchway/

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
4 months ago

I haven’t read all the comments here; perhaps 20 of them. But the article and the comments strike me as missing the point of Thanksgiving, at least in the US. It is a time to share with family and express our real heartfelt thanks for each and every one. There is a big danger in only focusing on the news cycle and what the pundits say. In some situations, it’s more important to pay attention to what your family and friends say and do. Thanksgiving is one of those. The fact that Thanksgiving in the US is far and away the most traveled holiday speaks volumes. We like re-uniting with our families each year. Yes, there are some families that allow the day to be spoiled by political arguments, but most of us are smart enough to not argue politics or religion on Thanksgiving, but to be thankful for each others presence and health, to the extent that we can. I suspect the UK could benefit from such an annual event.

David Hirst
David Hirst
4 months ago

Doctors have studied immunology, so they won’t advise anyone to do anything to ‘boost their immune system’ – that’s the province of wellness quacks.

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
4 months ago

Another brilliant article from KATHLEEN STOCK.
Perhaps UnHerd’s best writer.

Jack Martin Leith
Jack Martin Leith
4 months ago
Last edited 4 months ago by Jack Martin Leith
Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
4 months ago

Oh dear , Kathleen. Scraping the barrel this week. I’m thankful , even grateful, no one forced me to read the whole piece. Sure, some of the negative traits you describe are present in today’s world but not in the world that I live in and believe you do too.

Last edited 4 months ago by Rick Lawrence
David Morley
David Morley
4 months ago

various academics and medics frequently extoll the benefits of a daily “gratitude practice” for things such as combatting depression and boosting the immune system. 

As in “thank you universe for my depression and messed up immune system – oh and my mortality. Nice one.”

Does anyone advocate blaming the universe for this stuff?