What do we owe each other?

Part of Charlotte Lit’s “Keeping Pen to Paper” Series.

Today is (usually) tax day in the U.S., which got me thinking about the biblical exchange where Jesus is asked whether it’s lawful to pay tax to Caesar. He asks whose image is on their coins; they reply: ‘Caesar’s.’ To which Jesus says, ‘Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.’ Whatever your beliefs, it’s a good story, and a great allegory.

And it led me to a question: what do we owe each other? Today’s prompts allow you to dig into that idea.

  1. For fiction writers: Imagine a conversation between one character who believes we owe nothing to anyone (that is, entirely selfish) and a character who feels that everyone else’s needs are above our own (that is, entirely selfless). Both characters are extremes, of course, but writing from extreme points of view can sometimes help us to find the nuance that represents our own position. For extra credit, don’t make one the hero and one the villain. Try to make each person earnest in their beliefs.
  2. For nonfiction writers: Make a list, including items both serious and lighthearted, of things we owe each other. This can be specific things we owe to specific people, or more generally things that a person owes to another person in this city, in this country, on this planet.