Giving is reciprocal

By and

Editor:

I find J.D. Bowns’ regurgitation of the pseudo-intellectual sophistry of Ayn?Rand appalling (“We have no obligation to give back to society,” April 14). We have a moral obligation to give back to society at large, whether Bowns likes it or not.

Bowns would have us believe that it is right and proper to take what is offered and consider it a gift with no strings attached. Bowns is a fool. True generosity is as rare as hens’ teeth. People give because they expect to get. People don’t give gifts to people who don’t give gifts back.

When one gives to and takes from another, it is called a symbiotic relationship. When one takes and gives nothing in return, it is called parasitic. Bowns would have us believe that the highest moral good is to be a parasite, living off of others’ expectations of reciprocation.

His moral injunction is “take what you can because you can” to better oneself by violating the trust of people who have given with the expectation of getting.

Society expects that we will repay what we are given, or else it would never give. If you are helped, you are expected to help. It would be very profitable to ignore the thousands of hours of help others have given, to assume that because it was unpaid it is worthless.

You cannot escape the web of reciprocity. When we give, we burden. When we take, we are burdened. All that you have, you owe to the gifts and sacrifices of others. It is sometimes convenient to forget the mass of favors, recommendations, advice, instruction and aid we receive from others. While the individual acts are small, the sum is great.

Matt Miller?Graduate, Urban Planning