A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No one owes you anything?

 “No one owes you anything.”  I have seen this quote floating around a bit, usually in relation to school kids.  I understand the message folks are trying to convey.  They are trying to motivate children to work harder, to take responsibility for themselves and their lives, not to expect others to do for them, and so on.  Yet how easily does “No one owes you anything,” turn into “I don’t owe anyone anything.”  Thus encouragement to independence morphs into selfishness.  

It seems to me we all do owe each other quite a bit.  We owe each other respect.  We owe each other dignity as fellow human beings.  We owe each other justice.  If we are followers of Jesus (or Muhammad or Buddha or many other faiths for that matter) we owe each other love, loving our neighbors as ourselves, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.  

I know in the United States we value independence.  We rally to cries of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”  But as followers of Jesus or simply out of human decency we owe our fellow human beings enough concern to attempt to ensure we all have boots in the first place.  We also owe each other the effort to ensure our neighbors are not pushed to the ground with someone else’s boot holding them down so they can hardly draw breath let alone reach their boot straps.

Surely we owe others at least this.  To truly be all we can be, we owe each other much more, even all the love we can give.  

I hope we all take steps to ensure any rally cry to independence is accompanied by an acknowledgement of our interdependence and a call to compassion.

by Sheri Ellwood

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