“In comparing various authors with one another, I have discovered that some of the gravest and latest writers have transcribed, word for word, from former works, without making acknowledgment” (Pliny the Elder).
IN ANY BOOK, THERE IS NO MORE IMPORTANT SECTION THAN THE “ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.” As readers, most of us probably skip that section, but from the writer’s perspective, that is the place where he or she expresses appreciation for the help that others have given, including those who have shared their inspiration and ideas. To stand on the shoulders of others, particularly other writers, and not to acknowledge one’s debt to them is a serious crime.
Recognition. One of the greatest types of acknowledgment is that which says, “I recognize your presence. I am aware of you. I am taking thought for you at this moment.” This sounds like a simple thing, but it is a gift we fail to give when we walk in front of someone without speaking or acknowledging their presence, when we listen to someone without giving them our full attention, and so forth.
Honor. There are many times when we need to go beyond the bare acknowledgment of someone else’s presence. If what another person has said or done is praiseworthy, then acknowledgment means verbalizing the fact that we see their deed as good and honorable.
Gratitude. Just as honor goes beyond recognition, gratitude goes beyond honor. Gratitude is an active, personal appreciation of someone else. It includes recognition and honor, but it adds the personal element which says, “What you have done is meaningful to me, and I want you to know that you have helped me.” It takes not only thankfulness but also humility to acknowledge that we have been helped.
There is simply no such thing as greatness of character without the acknowledgment of others. No matter what the endeavor, the person who says “I did this all by myself” is usually telling a lie. In telling this lie, we diminish ourselves. So let us increase the amount of acknowledgment that is in our lives. Let us recognize the presence and the contribution of others, let us give honor where honor is due, and let us never be afraid to say “thank you” to those who have helped us.
“There is as much greatness of mind in acknowledging a good turn, as in doing it” (Seneca).