Monday, May 20, 2019

Hieromonk Gabriel: "How Ingratitude Became a Virtue"

(Remembering Sion via Pravmir) - Immanuel Kant once wrote: “Ingratitude is the essence of vileness.” And while I think that this is doubtless true in the modern sense of the word “vileness,” for the purpose of this article I would like to consider the archaic meaning: it comes from the Latin vilis, which means “worthless.” Kant is saying that there is nothing more worthless to human beings than ingratitude.

“Not so!” argues a recent article in The Atlantic, entitled: “Mothers Shouldn’t Be Grateful for Their Husbands’ Help.” The bulk of the article consists of an amalgamation of anecdotes and statistics marshaled in order to prove that women are not only being taken advantage of by their husbands in “the distribution of child-care labor in their home,” but that they have even been somehow duped into being grateful for it. The gratitude of women toward their husbands is declared to be “an impediment to the elusive goal of equity in the home.” Ingratitude, says the author, is not vile and worthless, but rather useful and even virtuous.

This article is exemplary of many of the chief dogmas of modernity (which, I suppose, is hardly surprising given that it ran just above one entitled “Abolish the Priesthood“). The most obvious of these dogmas is a radical egalitarianism, in which equality is more or less defined as complete and total interchangeability. The article clearly assumes that equality between the genders demands a precise 50-50 split in all childcare duties. It thereby also implicitly assumes that caring for children is something inherently undesirable: after all, nobody is filled with “righteous anger” because they get to do more of something which they themselves desire to do!

Let me be clear: I am certainly not trying to pretend that caring for children is not difficult or taxing at times; indeed, to speak thus as a monastic would be both naive and hypocritical. But it must also be admitted that almost any sort of professional work is also likewise difficult and taxing at times. So the question is this: why is professional work regarded as inherently more desirable than domestic work? Why should women actively cultivate ingratitude in the hopes that they will get to do more of the former and less of the latter? Why is it that women supposedly ought to find more fulfillment in pursuing a career than in raising children?
Complete article here.

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