Nature Writer Ernest Thompson Seton had an odd bill presented to him on his twenty-first birthday. It was a record kept by his father of all the expenses connected with young Ernest's childhood and youth, including the fee charged by the doctor for delivering him. Even more oddly, Ernest is said to have paid it. I used to think that Mr. Seton Senior was a jerk, but now I'm wondering. Margaret Atwood, 'Payback'
Most of us wouldn't wonder much. Such behaviour seems monstrous, inhuman. Certainly Seton found it so: he paid the bill, but never spoke to his father again afterward. And in a way, this is precisely why the presentation of such a bill seems so outrageous. Squaring accounts means that the two parties have the ability to walk away from each other. By presenting it, his father suggested he'd just as soon have nothing further to do with him. David Graeber, Debt, p.92
Do we owe our parents?
Do we owe them? Are we obligated to them?
Is it something that can be paid back? Is it something that can be paid back with money?
If not money, what is our obligation toward our parents?
Do you agree with this?
It is strange to wish to be square with ones' parents--it rather implies that one does not wish to think of them as parents anymore." David Graeber, Debt, p.62
Suppose it was the other way around? Suppose the parents have the responsibility, if they create a life, to make that life successful. If you create this life, you incur a debt--you owe the person for creating them, so you have to work to the best of your ability to make them successful, in the sense that you set them up to live life well. Do you agree with this?
Do you agree with this?
We do owe everything we are to others. This is simply true. The languge we speak and even think in, our habits and opinions, the kind of food we like to eat, the knowlege that makes our lights switch on and toilets flush, even the style in which we carry out our gestures of defiance and rebellion against social conventions---all of this we learned from other people, most of them long dead. If we were to imagine what we owe them as a debt, it could only be infinite. David Graeber, Debt, p.62
How would you describe the relationship we have with all the other people on the planet, and/or all the people who came before us?
Do you feel we owe humanity or the people who came before us anything?
Would you think of our relations to all of humanity as a debt?