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pure gratitude but can also be motivated by a fear of social sanctions or

of the discontinuation of profits ensuing from social relationships. Only

in more or less equally balanced relationships can gratitude unfold the

best of its powers.

The fourth layer consists of the societal and cultural meaning of gratitude.

As Simmel stated, a culture or society deprived of all acts of gratitude

will inevitably break down. Just as gratitude is indispensable in the life of

one individual, whowill face isolation and loneliness if his or her capacity

to feel grateful is impaired, gratitude is also a crucial ingredient of every

society and culture. Without the ties created by gratitude there would

be no mutual trust, no moral basis on which to act, and no grounds for

maintaining the bonds of community.

Table 3.1 summarizes the various ways gratitude may be expressed in

people’s experience and behavior, as well as the conceptual “layers” belonging

to a particular manifestation of gratitude. The four layers or

meanings of gratitude are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they

are different formulations of the same force that compels people to restore

the disequilibrium caused by having received a gift, whether from

a supernatural power, nature, or a fellow human being. In all these cases,

the failure to reciprocate acts as a boomerang to the recipients themselves,

because the fundamental principle of gift giving – keeping gifts in motion

by passing them on – is not heeded.

The enormous psychological, social, and cultural effectiveness of gratitude

is basedonthesamecapacityofmutual recognition that was involved

in the act of gift giving itself (see Chapter 2). No gratitude can exist without

recognition of the entity – person or nature – that brought the feelings

of gratitude into existence. These insights play a crucial role in the theoretical

model presented in Chapter 9.

In the words of Lewis Hyde (1983 [1979]: 50), “Those who will not

acknowledge gratitude or who refuse to labour in its service neither free

their gifts nor really come to possess them.”