Social Question

KeithWilson's avatar

Do you think you owe the world or do you believe that the world owes you?

Asked by KeithWilson (833points) August 5th, 2010

I know its pretentious, but I feel like the world owes me. I think most people believe that they owe the world so my stance is probably going to frowned upon, but do you think its a bad thing to feel like life owes you?

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64 Answers

KhiaKarma's avatar

Why would the world owe you? You are of the world…and by world, do you mean people- or the actual World? You consume so you owe to replace….

Your_Majesty's avatar

We have mutual relationship with the world so we owe each other.

Pandora's avatar

My parents are the ones who made me. Not anyone else. So if your talking about people, I owe others nothing for being here, just as much as others owe me nothing for their existence. I’ve made my own way through the world with help of love ones and sometimes with no help at all. I pay my debts as I go. So therefore, I am owed nothing and I owe nothing. I hold myself responsible for my life and no one else.
Now if you mean the planet. Then all I owe is to try not to be a bad steward and live as cleanly as possible and not disturb the nature of things too much.

zophu's avatar

Debts and loans are for banks. I am the world and the world is me; I’m only doing my best to help, like anyone else.

Qingu's avatar

I definitely owe the world. I’m incredibly lucky to be born into the situation I was born in (white, upper-middle class, male American) and I’ve been spoiled rotten on top of that.

Coloma's avatar

The world owes us nothing except being the world, and yes, we are the world and the world is us!

Holding onto that faulty belief is a sure way to stay in a perpetual state of anger, unhappiness and lack.

Ideally one matures to a point where their main desire is to give.

One can give in many small ways daily, it all adds up.

There is much joy in giving of ones self, be it time, attention, money, a kind word, a smile.

Like the song says, it’s not about having what you want, it’s about wanting what you have.

I hope you get over this cuz my crystal ball sees a gloomy forecast otherwise, and, undoubtedly you’ll spread that misery into the world.

Blackberry's avatar

I owe the world.

KeithWilson's avatar

maybe i should have said that i think life owes me, that might have been more concise

Jeruba's avatar

Do you mean that you don’t think you should have to pay your own way but should live off the labor of others—a free ride?

KeithWilson's avatar

@Jeruba Yeah. Thats pretty much it.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Can you tell us why you feel that way? There must be a reason you feel that way. I’m curious.

KhiaKarma's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus I am sorta curious, but honestly, I think he just likes the attention.

faye's avatar

Why should I work harder so that my taxes go to give you a free ride?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I don’t think there is any debt. I am a person trying to thrive in the world, and as long as I don’t infringe on the rights of others I can do so without owing or being owed anything.

gravity's avatar

I do not owe the world anything and the world owes me nothing. Many Americans I believe have a sense of entitlement though. Many of us have never had to truly work for anything these days.

KeithWilson's avatar

@Darling First, I didnt ask to be born. I didnt make the decision to live. Me just being here is reason enough for life to owe me.
@faye Im just one of many. i worked for four years and now im getting social security. I think that if you believe you owe the world you might not mind to pay for those of us with my talents.

Berserker's avatar

With all the negativity going on everywhere and the seemingly natural aggression which people present to one another or again the countless hardships people experience, I guess it’s hard to look at it under a different eye, although I can’t often help but to think it’s not about who owes what because of the disposition created by natural factors, or so it would seem.
There are plenty of positive things too; I’m one to fail to mention them because I’m a pessimist, but I still recognize them, I’m sure you do too; with that mindframe which makes you ask this, maybe consider it your reward from the world.

I think you just gotta fight the current though. I don’t know how to explain it, but the way things are, I don’t think we’re meant to expect anything in return from the world other than what it already gave us, whether it owes more to us or not.
Likewise, I don’t feel that people strive because they think they owe anything to anyone, but ultimately do it for themselves. Nothing wrong with that of course, but no, I don’t think anyone or anything needs to present me with whatever I want on a silver platter, and anyways it wouldn’t happen even if I thought that it should. If I can gank a piece of meat from said platter though, I sure as hell will.
I guess I don’t really get what you mean, since it could go so many ways into more specific issues, just saying I don’t think anything is predisposed to owe us anything, despite what we feel about it.
If you’re talking about people and society, maybe it’s different…I think the government owes me a couple of bucks, last I checked…>_>
As far as…erm, chance, faith, destiny or…other stuff, well I don’t really believe in any of that beyond us being a sick joke, like somebody decided to put a buncha mad pitbulls in an arena and let them starve.

BoBo1946's avatar

Never gave that one thought when I was working (retired now). No one owed me anything. i did the old fashion way, earn it!

KeithWilson's avatar

sorry….im done on this blog. I obviously shouldnt have attempted this conversation online…sory

Coloma's avatar

Birds, snakes, coyotes and lemmings didn’t ask to be born either, but…if they sit on their fuzzy little behinds waiting for the world to drop a worm, mouse, rabbit or bundle of hay into their laps, well…no more birds, snakes, coyotes and lemmings. lol

gravity's avatar

None of us asked to be born but that doesn’t mean the world owes all of us something or everything. hmmm my goodness

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Coloma GA. If every would-be parent sat around waiting for some disembodied consciousness to ask them to facilitate their birth, there wouldn’t be any people at all. The fact that you didn’t ask to be born is irrelevant at best.

Coloma's avatar


Yeah, kinda a no brainer.

Then again, I have a goose at my back door right now that is waiting for the nightly bread bowl and salad…hmmm… lol

BoBo1946's avatar

Keith, thought it was a good question. Would not take it personal.

KhiaKarma's avatar

ummmm… maybe I was a bit quick to judge. Didn’t mean to shut him down. If his response had anything to do with me- maybe I am being pretentions now!

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@KeithWilson “I obviously shouldnt have attempted this conversation online”
Maybe you should better explain what you mean, rather than using a cliché that is often associated with negativity to explain your thoughts.

KeithWilson's avatar

@BoBo Thanks.
@Coloma I believe that the reason why my reasoning works is because of how non-sequitor it is. It very uncommon for a person to believe that since he was brought into the world without consent, then somehow that world owes him. Growing up is not easy, neither is being an adult. Life is hard and I just feel like maybe it shouldnt be. Maybe if life gave to me its grander fruits, then I might feel like I owe life. But it doesnt happen. So until it does I will consider life indebted to my presence. And when it finally does give to me, then Ill be content.

faye's avatar

I’d love to know what your talents are.

KeithWilson's avatar

@Faye Special Talents
@FireMadeFlesh I just thought that I might have a hard time getting my point across in a benevolent way.

zophu's avatar

It’s good to address the psychology of debt when considering these things. It can get confused with subservience—“I owe my creators and sustainers, therefore I will serve as I am told to.” It’s a sad fact that most people’s jobs do more to harm the world than to help it, simply because they help perpetuate destructive systems of living. It takes more than working for the system to help the world, you have to work to change the system to help the world. And that requires a little bit of “come on guys, help me out!” mentality, because you’re not going to be able to change anything as big as “the system” alone. Maybe that’s where you’re getting the idea that the world owes you. If anyone owes you anything, it’s your community—they need to help you so that you can help them. People deserve whatever they need—people’s needs need to be considered and worked to fill—when they are neglected, it could be considered a debt unpaid; but that doesn’t mean you can keep collecting interest on it and expect it to be paid in full sometime in the future.

Coloma's avatar


Here’s something I like.

Immature souls learn to take responsability for their actions

Mature souls learn to take responsability for their thoughts

Old souls know they are responsable for their happiness.

I hope you find your peace and happiness, it can be done, inspite of any external circumstance which is all temporary anyway.

Change your thought’s, change your world. :-)

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@KeithWilson It can’t hurt to try.

KeithWilson's avatar

maybe i feel this way just about physical work. and free money. I feel i have a valuable trade and might be worth the weight. I do some things for others that no one else can do. Thats a form of work and should be paid.

Coloma's avatar


What exactly is this skill or gift you feel is worth so much more than you are getting?

I am great at creative pow wowing…is it something you can market, are you a professional wannabe?

If you want somethng bad enough you must be willing to take crative action!

ACTION is key!

SeventhSense's avatar

This is up to karma to decide. If you owe the world or the world owes you will become apparent. Best to act as if it’s the former and you may inherit more of the latter.

KhiaKarma's avatar

@SeventhSense yup, and I already decided ;)

zophu's avatar


God doesn’t pay people’s wages. It’s a game we play with money, you have to try and play with people who play fair if you want to “earn” your points.

I suggest you base the value in your work on its effects on the world, and just make money however you can for the purpose of sustaining the most valuable work you’re capable of. But then, I guess that would go against what you’re saying here.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@KeithWilson Theorising about what should be is only useful to a point. The harsh reality is that things are as they are, and some things that should be will never be. I have many idealist opinions, but most of them are balanced with the practical realisation that they will never be realised. I’m sure this skill you are talking about is valuable, but value isn’t necessarily returned in a monetary fashion. Work is primarily about survival, and if your work coincides with what you enjoy, then that is a bonus. Income doesn’t determine the value of your skills in terms of intrinsic value, but in terms of economic supply/demand value. Work to get what you need, and do what you want in your recreational time.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

As @FireMadeFlesh points out, I am a person of privilege – we all are, as Americans, in comparison to people in countries at whose cost we live our lifestyle. I owe my good life to others.

KeithWilson's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Thank for the post. You pretty figured out how I was going about my reasoning. I am doing good in that regard. Thanks

anartist's avatar

I feel that in a number of ways I got fucked in recent years, but I also feel that that is the luck of the draw plus whatever I failed to do to tilt the scales. C’est la vie.

ducky_dnl's avatar

No one owes me anything at all. I don’t want a free-ride in life, nor do I owe anyone/anything something. I am here to take care of three people. My, myself, and I at the moment. If in the future I have a family, then they will be mine to care for. I’m not here to work and pay for people that think life and everything they want should be given to them. Also, you only worked four years? Not trying to be mean, but that isn’t that much..seeing as some people start working at 18 and are still working in their sixties.

wundayatta's avatar

When I graduated from college, I had all this education (I thought) and all these great ideas (I thought) and people, I thought, should be banging on my door begging me to work for them. Alas, the world did not seem to have the same opinion of my talents as I did.

In that time, the economy was similar to the one we have now, and jobs were hard to find, particularly in the publishing industry, which was where I hoped to bestow the blessing of my wisdom. I ended up doing odd jobs for several months, and then eventually getting a job as a door to door canvasser, selling ideas. I learned a lot there—particularly about selling myself.

Throughout my life I was, as one colleague described it once, a failure of the market. That is, the market failed to properly price me. I was always being paid less than I was worth.

That was nice of her to say, I guess. But I had come to realize that if I wanted to get paid more, I’d have to sell myself (or my talents) to someone who placed a greater value on them. I was either too lazy to try to do that, or it just wasn’t worth enough to me work hard enough to find someone to value me. Or maybe I didn’t think I was worth being appropriately valued. I.e., even thought I thought I was owed a proper position, I didn’t really think I was worth enough to have it.

I have come to see that communism, lovely as it sounds, is not going to be practical. No one is going to take care of me the way I am going to. If I don’t think I’m worth it, no one else will either. I have to make a case for myself.

I think that when I thought I was owed things it was because I didn’t really believe in myself. I didn’t have any confidence. I wanted to be taken by the hand and lead through the forest so I wouldn’t get lost. It didn’t happen, so I had two choices: curl up in a ball and suck my thumb and hope someone would take pity and give me a bottle of milk, or start travelling through the forest and just face the fact that I would get lost.

It’s really no choice at all. We all go through the forest. We all get lost—some more than others. We all end up with scars all over us, and we all, hopefully, end up with the wisdom those scars buy us. And if we’re really lucky, we can actually use those scars as evidence we know something that might keep someone else from getting the same scars.

It’s up to you, of course. You can curl up in a ball and suck your thumb and hope your bottle filled with diluted milk will sustain you for the rest of your life. You can act as if the world owes you, and see how far that gets you.

You can also start trying to push through the brambles and thickets. You can learn to sell yourself well enough that the talents you think you have will be put to appropriate use.

No, you never asked to be put at the edge of the forest, with nothing but fire behind you and no choice but to attempt the brambles, or curl up in a ball, hoping for thin milk, and also hoping the fire doesn’t get too close.

In truth, the world doesn’t fucking care about you. It doesn’t care about any of us. If we don’t care about ourselves, no one will. At least, not to the degree we want—maybe feel we deserve. That, I’m afraid, has to be earned. Earned by acquisition of scars. Many, many scars.

SeventhSense's avatar

I can’t figure out what exactly your mood is when your answers get longer but you’ve definitely returned to the…ummm… longer reply lately….not that there’s anything wrong with that

wundayatta's avatar

@SeventhSense Dunno what it is today, but I’m on a roll. The thoughts come and the fingers type and there you have it. I’ve done a number of short things and a couple of long ones. As always, I just say what I find myself saying.

I do hope you read it, but if not, I understand. However, in the past, I would have said I wouldn’t have read anything that long myself. Today, though, I’ve been reading it with interest. It’s fun finding out what thoughts are locked inside just waiting to be liberated.


Dewey420's avatar

i’m one of those, noone owes me I don’t owe noone. i honestly dont gives no F*ck

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Neither but every once and awhile I ask for something, like today. As of early this morning I had no home to go to and my current one is foreclosing in a few weeks. I said to no one present, “I am a good person, my bf is a good person, my mom is a good person and we’ve all three spent most of our lives giving mostly for others and feeling like we’ve not had enough in return. Please please please, let us have something good for us now?” Hocus pocus and my rental application for a house I’d only imagined came through.

Dewey420's avatar

@Neizvestnaya but are you Christian?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Dewey420- no, I’m not religious but that doesn’t stop me from asking the unknown to go easy on me.

Coloma's avatar


Bravo! Encore, encore!

Very well said and written!

Coloma's avatar


Of course once we get through the brambles and learn to fill our own bottles, then we have to make sure we don’t fill our bottles with cream or we get fat and lazy!

I’m back to thin milk. lol

Trillian's avatar

“Do you mean that you don’t think you should have to pay your own way but should live off the labor of others—a free ride?”
“Yeah. Thats pretty much it”
Good luck with that.

Here are some examples of other people who feel that the world owes them;

The three of you should get on together like a house on fire.

KeithWilson's avatar

@Trillian Im on social security right now, so its pretty much working for me.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I was extremely fortunate to be born into comfortable circumstances: no material wants, first class education at no cost to myself, never having needed to work out of financial necessity. I was trained from childhood that such good fortune carries with it an obligation; a form of noblesse oblige, duty. Life consists of doing my duty, as defined by the aptitudes I was born with, the skills I’ve acquired and the needs presented by the situations I find myself in.

@Symbeline Superb answer.

augustlan's avatar

Life itself is a gift. You have already been paid.

rooeytoo's avatar

I’d like to answer your question but I don’t have time, I am too busy working to pay my taxes so that people who don’t want to work don’t have to. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.

wundayatta's avatar

@KeithWilson You’re on Social Security…. retirement or SSI? If it’s retirement, then you must have worked to earn that.

SSI is another story. It is a contract Americans have made with each other that if any of us gets into trouble that is not of our own causing—anything that disables us—we’ll take care of each other.

It’s not that we owe anyone on SSI, but that we have agreed we are all better off if we guarantee all of us support if we get disabled.

In either case, you are owed no more than any of the rest of us are owed should we be in the same position. And really, you are the beneficiary of the agreement.

The words are confusing. It is an “entitlement.” You are also a “beneficiary.” But the bottom line is that it is a social agreement. Sure some people game “the system,” but “the system” is there for all of us, and it took all of us to create it. So if you think you are owed, what you are doing is placing a burden amounting to maybe 100 millionth of a dollar on everyone. Not much for us, perhaps, and it means a lot to you, but there are people who are fighting to gut the system all the time. People with an attitude don’t help the cause. Not one bit.

NaturallyMe's avatar

I agree with @Pandora – simply put. Nature owes me nothing, however since i have a brain and a conscience, i take it upon myself to believe that i owe it to nature and the planet to look after it as best i can and not destroy any of it.

SeventhSense's avatar

Those were scary. The first one was kind of a set up and may have a history but the second one was just bizarre. The one common denominator is that both families were complicit in these train wrecks and no doubt just as much to blame.

Trillian's avatar

@SeventhSense family complicity, yes. Parental indulgence to a faulty degree. Do you think our OP may have been raised the same way? He certainly seems to think that we owe him something. I have yet to see what it is that he has that warrants payment. He is fortunate to live in this society at this time. One hundred years ago he would be starving, in a poor house or damn well finding a way to make a living.

SeventhSense's avatar

If one is a true narcissist it’s not a choice really and he’s probably more honest than some which have simply realized that this sentiment is frowned upon socially. The fragmented and undeveloped true ego self of one with NPD is abandoned by adolescence and usurped by the manufactured ego/self out of necessity The manufactured ego is a self preserving coping mechanism that is in response to a disfunctional and usually narcissistic caregiver.

The adult narcissist does not want an authentic child because that child can not supply them with the narcissistic supply they need to prop up their own false self. Only a false self in the image of the narcissistic caregiver or one which complements the caregiver can be allowed. This is a vicious cycle that is passed down from generation to generation. The child who is raised with this will naturally be deeply resentful and feel the world owes him/her something. And of course they don’t and he knows this rationally. But there is of course one who does and that is the caregiver but they were, and are, unable to give this child what it needed, which was unconditional love. For example: “My brother married a girlfriend of mine and when I expressed my hurt about this (which was my real pain and my true heart) to my mother, she commented how she thinks she had a thing for my other brother too! Which was a complete lie and the opposite of what one would expect from maternal instinct, but my authenticity threatened her and she responded in the only way an
unconscious narcissist can- with disdain for this weakness. And even when one is aware it doesn’t stop it.

The only solution is to slowly try to restore harmony by re-parenting oneself as one would like to be raised. Of course this is also a manufactured state but it at least has the capacity to bring some peace and the irrational thoughts about the world owing us can be quieted and soothed by our own “inner parent”. It is still considered incurable. I was in therapy for 19 years only to find out in retrospect he knew all along and was basically letting me go slowly over the years not because I was “cured” but because this condition is considered incurable. And I am painfully honest with myself and have a strong will. Unfortunately it’s like trying to replace the bottom layer of bricks without upsetting the entire foundation of the house. The only cure is a complete breakdown of the self! Hardly a cure. So you slap another coat of paint on the house and you carry on realizing it will always be a little askew. Personally that sticks in my craw a little bit but only if you’ve lived with it as long as I have can you understand and accept it. Maybe with the right teacher one can be born again but I haven’t seen it yet personally.

Trillian's avatar

@SeventhSense I thought you were gone. I’m gad you’re here. PMing you right now!

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