That makes you what you are…” (Wond’ring Aloud, Jethro Tull)
This is not intended as a homily, or a ‘holier-than-thou’ (because I am not) but a curious observation. Some people are born (or made into by their growing-up environment. I don’t seriously know which, and it may be both) givers. Others, it seems, expect it to be given to them. The precious few are those who know how to receive graciously, and give good value for it. The latter is the hardest, and is a skill I have never learned well. I was raised (and possibly born) to be one who gives. My father certainly was. Nothing delighted him more. I remember an endless giving of fish, or crayfish, or avocados, or lychees or paw-paws – often to the extent he’d give more than he kept for his family. I derive pleasure in giving (especially to the latter group), and I struggle to receive, let alone graciously. I try, with indifferent success. I cope best by paying it forward, if I can’t pay it back, because to me a gift that is received as if it were ‘due’ sours right there – which is why I pay my dues to other wannabe writers, to people who wish to climb, or dive, or fish or learn more of living off the land. There is of course a considerable quid pro quo situation which is not barter, but an aspect of gracious receiving, among the various self-sufficiency folk.
To my mind many of the demands ‘rights’ and ‘reparations’ come from a way of making giving have no reciprocal requirement of gratitude, pay-back or even pay-forward. It appears based on fostering feelings of guilt, an interesting and complex product of social evolution, and rests quite heavily on Judeo-Christian history and philosophy. The reward for the giver, is per se is in theory amelioration of that guilt, which oddly is always temporary. It is certainly something which can be exploited, and I believe often is. I don’t see that ending well, myself. It’s hard, certainly in game theory (where those who do not reciprocate are considered ‘cheaters’ – to be detected and punished or excluded) to see how this could work, otherwise. Of course children are given a lot of lee-way, possibly in the assumption that one is training them to be givers themselves as adults. And possibly because their obvious delight is a reward enough.