Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Are you owed anything just because you were born?

Asked by wundayatta (58591points) February 25th, 2010

If so, what are you owed and why are you owed it? If not, what is your view about how people can get anywhere in life? In either case, how does this perception affect the way you behave? Give examples, if possible.

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69 Answers

ChocolateReigns's avatar

Sure, we have rights. But we aren’t necessarily owed anything.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I deserve to be a famous athlete, a rock star and President and I don’t mind complaining to everyone until I get all of these things.
Also, I shouldn’t have to work for any of them.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Food, clothing, shelter, Love.

nikipedia's avatar

To borrow from one of the greats:

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We hold these truths to be self-evident.

Vunessuh's avatar

I personally think we’re owed love.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

My parents owe me love, protection, food, shelter, direction, education.

lilikoi's avatar

When parents are of the opinion that their kids owe them something, I am utterly disgusted. Reproducing is a very selfish act, and it is ridiculous to say kids should owe their parents anything. It is not as though kids choose to be born or even get a say in who their parents are. I agree with @OneMoreMinute that parents owe their children all of life’s basic necessities, including access to health care, clean water, and a safe environment.

josie's avatar

You are owed nothing.
You are entitled to claim as your own your life and your freedom to live it as you choose. In a social context, it is rational and thus morally proper, to acknowledge that others are entitled to make the same claim.

escapedone7's avatar

I am having a schizoid moment. I thought of two different answers. The first reaction was, what I believe I am owed, which is very little. However if I were to bring a child into this world, and I decided to go get pregnant and create a life, I do believe I owe that child some things. He or she wouldn’t have asked to be born, and I think before I make a decision like that I would consider what kind of life that child deserves. When thinking of this hypothetical pregnancy that will never ever happen, I thought yes, I would owe that child quite a lot. When thinking of myself, however, I felt different. So I need to go finish arguing with myself in my head. I will get back to you when the voices stop. lol

OneMoreMinute's avatar

I forgot clothing.

timothykinney's avatar

I take the opposite stance. I think the moment we are born we become a burden on everything around us.

We change oxygen into CO2, consume the life of others (plants and animals), excrete very excessive levels of nitrogen (enough to kill fish in rivers by accident), consume huge amounts of energy which produces even more CO2, etc.. Furthermore, modern agricultural relies heavily on synthesized fertilizers which contribute to a nitrogen cascade that has no parallel in nature.

Much of this we do haphazardly and without any thought to how it will impact other species or future generations. Fortunately, some people express gratitude for their food and shelter on a daily basis and strive not to be wasteful, but the mainstream ideal is more consumption and, incredibly, more leisure. However, the sheer size of the human population and our massive consumption puts measurable strain on the environs we inhabit.

The question I am forced to ask myself is: What am I doing that makes me worth all of this?

Said another way. Everyday I breathe, eat, and shit. What am I doing with that respiration, consumption, and pollution? Am I improving the world in some way? Or just wasting resources?

The incredible thing about this very disheartening realization (I first discovered it in myself at the age of 24) is that I can do something that makes my life worthwhile. The recognition of how much I owe to everything around me motivates me to do my best and to maintain kindness and curiosity.

Ask not what the world owes you. Ask what you owe to the world.

SeventhSense's avatar

I feel like I’m entitled to a lot of things but most of them are just the twisted roots of my ancient poorly formed psyche. I can’t even speak of my true nature. It’s like speaking through a horn and trying to make a guitar sound. No matter what I say I am defined by the form and will be deemed a horn.

Cruiser's avatar

Nope, you or I owe everything from the minute you are born. My super great great grandfather probably hung out with other really cool cavemen who together would look out for each other and protect their hides from the saber tooth tiger and hunt mastodons for food. So just to survive and keep your heart beating you need help from others and that comes with a price…you have to pitch in and do your fair share. Same applies today once you are born you owe till the day you die…you owe your fair share of the work it takes to keep your heart beating.

marinelife's avatar

I think within the confines of our current societal structure it is acceptable to think that children are owed the basics of life: food, health care, clothing, shelter.

But I do not think that in absolute terms we are owed anything except the life we were given.

SeventhSense's avatar

Theoretically is one thing. Personally is an entirely different animal.

laureth's avatar

I think you’re also owed a fair shot at being able to get them, @Cruiser.

DominicX's avatar

I agree with @marinelife. Within society, I think you are owed the basics of life, but in an absolute “philosophical” sense I don’t think you are owed anything and I don’t think owe anything either.

buckyboy28's avatar

We aren’t owed anything, but we should be. It wasn’t our choice that we were born.

laureth's avatar

@buckyboy28 – knowing what you know now, would you have chosen it for yourself?

lonelydragon's avatar

@lilikoi I agree. If two people decide to have a child, then they are responsible for the consequences of that decision and ought to provide for the child without complaining.

@Captain_Fantasy If I may ask, who is that in your avatar?

ninjacolin's avatar

yes, everything that you get.
absolutely nothing else.

phoebusg's avatar

Nothing. But it would be beneficiary for my caregivers to take care of me, in order to later take care of them and this group we call society. Assuming I don’t grow up detached and with sociopathic tendencies – looking to kill everyone.

Berserker's avatar

As many have said, you’re at least owed the right to live. Theoretically anyway.

But seeing how the system works in society and that as soon as we’re born we literally owe the government thousands and thousands of dollars to be able to live normally, it often seems disturbing.

YARNLADY's avatar

The people who brought you into this world owe you a decent start in life, for the first 18 years, since it was their idea to ‘make’ you. After that, you’re on your own. If you were lucky enough to be born into a loving family, you will have their voluntary love, help and support throughout your live.

syz's avatar


HungryGuy's avatar

Well, as for me, I’m owed a harem of slave girls :-p

jca's avatar

your mother and father owe it to you to do the best they can to protect you, feed you, house you, clothe you, encourage you, teach you and love you.

SeventhSense's avatar

Wow and if you people actually existed what a wonderful selfless place this world would be. I get all warm and fuzzy imagining this enchanted land of rainbows and unicorns full of brotherly love.

davidbetterman's avatar

Absolutely. To think otherwise is just buying into a fallacy held by others who don’t value themselves very highly.

ChaosCross's avatar

We are owned nothing as a child, the rights given to us by the constitution for instance are not universal rules pertaining to every person but only an imaginary guideline for Americans. It makes me frown when people whine about how life is not fair and that they deserved better. One of the best things to do for a person is to put their life in perspective by showing them places like Haiti. The only things all people have when they are born is a soul, everything else, including vitals like a heart and a brain, are not guaranteed.

YARNLADY's avatar

@ChaosCross So are you saying every baby should just be abandoned at birth, to fend for itself?

ninjacolin's avatar

@YARNLADY you weren’t asking me directly, but if you were, i would say “anarchy” is the way of things. no one necessarily owes anyone anything. we all simply do whatever we want.

so, no, every baby shouldn’t be abandoned since that is not what some parents want. some parents want to take care of their kids, so that’s what those parents “should” do. other parents who want to give their kids up for adoption “should” do that. if you want to abandon your kids in the streets, you may. But.. you have to keep in mind that other people who want people like you to punish.. “should” by this logic, do so.

once you’ve factored in the fact that everyone always does whatever they want.. you start to realize your wants are limited to but a few actions in a given scenario. these actions are what are considered “responsible” actions.

SeventhSense's avatar

Let’s just say some questions will NEVER be answered honestly. The world is populated with a dearth of persons who feel they are entitled to everything from bottled water to Frozen Cappuccinos but ask for a little self effacement and everyone is suddenly Mother Theresa.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Yes I believe all people born are owed food, shelter, clothing and love by their parents.

timothykinney's avatar

@SeventhSense wrote if you people actually existed…


YARNLADY's avatar

@ninjacolin @SeventhSense I guess I live in a different world than you do, I can’t make any sense out of what you are saying.

SeventhSense's avatar

LOL there’s a reason why all comedy originates on the coasts.
When I say you people don’t exist it is sarcasm.I.E.- We are owed nothing our whole purpose is selfless. etc,
Is anyone that selfless? Follow?
as per ninja I can’t make heads or tails of that either

YARNLADY's avatar

@SeventhSense I guessed it was sarcasm, but now I am beginning to get it. Thanks for the clarification

ucme's avatar

Three score years & ten would be the very least i’d expect for enriching the world with my prescence.I mean come on, throw me a freakin bone.

ninjacolin's avatar

@YARNLADY and @SeventhSense lol, what does it sound like i said?

Christian95's avatar

I’m pretty sure that I owned my body and everything it was inside it

SeventhSense's avatar

No I hear you now. Anything can happen but is generally confined within a certain set of constraints by probability.

timothykinney's avatar

@Christian95 But your body can only be sustained by the consumption of the things around it. If there was no food or oxygen, you would quickly perish. If you can never be independent of others (plants, animals, atmosphere, sun), how can you speak of ownership?

CaptainHarley's avatar

The universe owes you only the right to strive, nothing else.

YARNLADY's avatar

@ninjacolin First you used the word anarchy, but then you described chaos, which is completely different. Then you seemed to be saying anybody can do anything they want except when they can’t, with a couple of shoulds randomly scattered in there.

SeventhSense's avatar

Simply put.
Anybody can do and will do whatever they want in whatever way they want to do it unless they won’t or can’t or are compelled to or refrain from for whatever reason.

YARNLADY's avatar

@SeventhSense Your explanation make some sense, but an infant is incapable of even forming ‘wants’ and certainly not capable of following through with any. The parents owe the child the chance to develop into a person. To the best of my knowledge, babies don’t ask to be born, therefore, the person who brings them into the world owes them that chance.

SeventhSense's avatar

I disagree. Studies have shown infants to have very specific wants and have been documented as expressing them even before motor skills have been acquired.
As to this supporting or opposing any argument here I’m neutral.

ninjacolin's avatar

Everybody does whatever they want. Anarchy.

Anything a person doesn’t do is something they technically didn’t want. Either because they didn’t know how to accomplish it (so, they opted for something they did know how to do), or because they didn’t know they should accomplish it (so they opted for something they were aware of), or because they felt it shouldn’t be accomplished (so they opted for something they felt was better).

laureth's avatar

In other words, there are no rules, only conditions that are imposed.

DrMC's avatar

If you are a pure atheist then it follows that you are owed nothing but the right to struggle to avoid Darwin’s hammer, and good luck with that. This is in conflict with the beliefs of the group that follows.

If you possess theism or a religion – then it prescribes “covenants” – in other words these are “god given rights” These are in contrast to the group that follows.

If you are a humanist you contain the idealistic concept of “certain inalienable rights” These are in conflict with the group that follows.

If you are an entitlementist then you think you are entitled to a butt load of shit that we cant afford. Suck it up and live with it.

HungryGuy's avatar

@DrMC – Which of those categories would I fall into? I’m still waiting for my harem of slave girls that the world owes me!

PacificRimjob's avatar

It depends on what nation one is born in.

YARNLADY's avatar

@benjaminlevi I love that link. Thanks.
@ninjacolin Now I get it, you are parroting college philosophy, rather giving your opinion of the real world. You had me going for a minute there.

thriftymaid's avatar

Basic human rights. They will not house, clothe, or feed you.

DrMC's avatar

@HungryGuy well, maybe if you did some jihad – then you could be a dead muslim? – just remember it’s virginians, not virgins

Zuma's avatar

At a minimum, we all owe each other civility, good faith, honesty and fair dealing, respect, reciprocity and solidarity—which is to say, aid and comfort in time of need. As a general rule, I believe we owe others what we would ask of others: an equal share of the society’s benefits. I believe that we owe one another an improved world in which everyone can live a dignified life.

ninjacolin's avatar

No, @YARNLADY. :) I’m not parroting.. i’m saying what i believe is both true and evident.

PacificRimjob's avatar

I’m owed not having your dirty faced brat scream up and down the restaurant like it’s a catwalk.

SeventhSense's avatar

Hell ya. And catwalk would be welcome. It’s more like a Nascar track.

jca's avatar

well since apparently our mothers and fathers did not owe us food, shelter and clothing, we should all be very grateful to them and call them right now to thank them for giving us those things, assuming they did.

wundayatta's avatar

@jca Damn straight! If, indeed, we want to be alive. If would rather never have been born, we might as well curse them.

SeventhSense's avatar

In my next life I’m going to nurse from Salma Hayek..

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