What we owe

Everything good I have accomplished is because of what others have done for me. I can write because of my parents, teachers, professors, and heroes of the craft.

This goes much further: All goodness in my life is because of the kindness of others–directly or indirectly, stranger or non stranger.

In this way, I am indebted to others. Jesus commands us to love one another, and we must do this because it is the right thing to do. We also must obey this command because we owe it to those around us. We are nothing without family, friends, acquaintances–and yes–even strangers.

We live within a society that forces us to assert our individuality and “specialness.” Television, magazines, even the way people drive on the streets–taking part in all of these things can pull a person away from the gratefulness one feels toward his or her fellow human being and cause him or her to feel superior–to feel as if they deserve a certain level of respect or wealth based on no other thing than the fact that they are who they are. Because, let’s face it, we can feel love toward our brothers and sisters until one of them cuts us off or drives too slowly in front of us. Love doesn’t come so naturally or gracefully after that.

To combat this we must cultivate a sense of gratitude and recognize what we owe to those around us. When we live with a sense of indebtedness to others for the gifts we possess and the comfort in our modern world, contentment and happiness tends to capture our hearts and minds more fully.

We must still contribute our unique and artful perspective to the world, but this should come with a sense of deeply cultivated humility.

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