Robert George on Radical Gratitude

Princeton University Professor Robert George
Princeton University Professor Robert George

This interview with Katherine Jean Lopez and APP’s founder Prof. Robert George is a must-read:

“Gratitude radicalized me.”

Back in December, some of us stopped in place and fell to our knees. I happened to be at a conference with many friends, colleagues, and admirers of Princeton professor Robert P. George, when we learned he was in the hospital with heart trouble, and it did not sound good. We prayed. We were not alone. Robby is one of those people, like the late Justice Scalia, who are irreplaceable. (Of course, each of us is, if we only knew it and treated one another that way.) Our public and intellectual world wouldn’t be the same without him. Even with the tremendous legacy Professor George has created by mentoring young academics and activists, the loss of the man himself would run deep.

He’s long back at work now. And I thought of him when a comment that feminist icon Gloria Steinem made on Bill Maher’s show resurfaced after Lands’ End inexplicably made an unforced error by profiling her for its spring catalogue. (When you think “practical family clothing” — and school uniforms! — bra burning in the Seventies isn’t the first image that comes to mind.) What this reminded me of was her comment, a few weeks ago now, that “gratitude never radicalized anybody.”

She was talking about trailblazing and Roe v. Wade and Hillary Clinton running for president. She infamously got in trouble during that interview for explaining away young women supporting Bernie Sanders as simply being where the boys are.

Steinem’s comment about gratitude lingered because it struck me as so very wrong. And I felt for her, too, because, truly, gratitude can change everything — how we look at ourselves, one another, and the world.

When Robert George found himself in the hospital with a life-threatening condition, he was overwhelmed with prayer. “The news quickly became public, and people began praying for me. Not just my family and close friends. Not just people of my own faith. But also people I’ve never met. And people of virtually every faith. People who were praying for me flooded my e-mail box with messages.” George is Catholic, and he got a call from Cardinal Dolan, but he also got one from an elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, “to say that the entire Latter-Day Saints community worldwide was praying for me.” He got word from ultra-Orthodox Jews in New Jersey, historically black churches, Baptists, Presbyterians, Assemblies of God, evangelicals, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Baha’is, and Muslims who were praying for him, too.

[…]

Read the full story at National Review.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.