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Don't Thank Me; Thank ... ?

By Susan G. Bonella ~

Beliefs that lead to positive actions are commendable. “Don’t thank me; thank God” is a common phrase among kindhearted friends. It’s a reflection of their love for their god and the beliefs that keep them going. That the sentence is in the form of a command is a little hard for me to digest and even harder for me to form a response. Perhaps I could respond with “And I thank you for your free-will decision”. Given the general consensus that God doesn’t interfere with free will, making the choice to be thoughtful solely at the believer’s discretion, my response ought not be offensive. Whether or not the giver is trying to prompt me to acknowledge “God”, I recognize that the generosity really comes from the individual, and so I refrain from any discussion of opposing beliefs.

I can’t imagine speaking the command, “Don’t thank me; thank humanity” when giving a generous gift. Not only does it sound pompous, but it would most likely make a religious person form a rebuttal instead of simply receiving the gift with the intended joy. Likewise, if the “Don’t thank me; thank God” command is actually a sort of innocent solicitation for mutual acknowledgement of belief, what are some of your agnostic, naturalist, or other examples of cordial responses? How do you react in these give and take situations with friends and loved ones?