Gratitude, holding life as a gift, is key to the ability to love, the ability to give freely and non-anxiously to others.
So would it not make sense then that a lack of gratitude radically undermines love? That ingratitude is the deadliest sin?
That is the argument recently made by Ann Wroe in her essay "Ingratitude is the Deadliest Sin" in the magazine Intelligent Life. Ann writes:
The incidents seem trifling. After the dinner party, no note is sent. (Well, you were busy, and the dinner wasn’t that elaborate.) The solicitous e-mail gets no reply. (Again, you’re busy, and don’t feel like chatting.) A driver gives way to you at a place where there is no clear priority; you don’t acknowledge him. A fellow pedestrian steps into the road for you, or holds a door; you breeze on by. On holiday, you give your smallest and most worthless coins to the woman who has carefully cleaned your room.…(H/T Andrew Sullivan)
No blood is spilt in any of these cases. Nothing is stolen. No one’s life is ruined. The prick of pain passes soon enough. Yet a tiny seed of ice has been sown, formed of arrogance on one side and, on the other, a sense of worthlessness. That ice spreads, and creeps into the veins and crevices of life: so that on the next occasion the door is not held, the room is cleaned carelessly, the car does not give way and the e-mail is never sent. As the opportunity for kindness is ignored, so the chance of reciprocal kindness, in the form of thanks, never comes to be. What is never given can never be repaid.