Opinion: Give and take

Shawn Mercer

Shawn Mercer

Shawn Mercer is a sophomore integrated life sciences major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Everything in life comes down to give and take. Nothing can be done without someone else doing it before.

If you believe in evolution, every new species comes from an old one trying to pass on its genes. If you believe in creation, then there is not the created without a creator. From an understanding of our origins, we can grasp that our modern everyday life still revolves around a notion of give and take.

We can describe our current economic system as capitalistic in nature. Capitalism is nothing more than exchanges of goods and services for something we value more. Without dividing our labor up into many separate parts and exchanging them for things we want more, we could do little more than subsist on what we could produce ourselves. Ultimately, we need each other more than we can afford to be alone.

Our legal system and government revolve around this same notion of give and take. In our legal system, we, in theory, have freedom in as long as we don’t diminish the freedom of others. In doing so, those who take freedom away from others have theirs taken away accordingly.

Our tax system also draws inspiration from this premise. Money is taken in order to contribute to the greater good of society. Ostensibly, everybody benefits more from having slightly less, because they receive some public good in exchange.

Every modern machine and innovation requires an input in order to receive an output. Our interface with computers requires directions if we want it to do something. In another way, we pay a lot of money to people who design a computer that is easier to communicate with and listens better.

We attend Kent State in exchange for an education and a degree. It is our hope that the degree will get us a good job. Conversely, employers expect a better worker for their money. We then show up to work every day for a salary, on which we live. Without a give and take, we would go nowhere.

Now, all this seems trivial if it describes everything that we already do and everything that already occurs. If this understanding doesn’t change anything, then it really doesn’t matter. I am convinced it does.

It teaches us that if we want to help someone, we have to do it. It tells us that taking what isn’t ours is wrong. It prevents us from buying into any notion that there is truly a free lunch. Nothing in life is ultimately free.

The most important takeaway is the importance of giving what you can, when you can. The only way a society centered around the notion of seeking more for less can hope to be comfortable with itself is if those who belong to this society take care of others when they have nothing to exchange. If we don’t take care of those who can’t take care of themselves, then we cannot take solace in the fact that we would be nothing but takers.

Contact Shawn Mercer at [email protected].