If anything, they owed you.

The past has no rights that the future is bound to respect.

They had their time, and now it’s gone.

Every year, new people are born and old people die. And when you die, your rights die with you.

And that’s fine, really. Every person and every time passes on, and they don’t have any right to expect the world to stay the way they made it.

Only the living can have rights.

But a lot of people (mostly those who were born into positions of power or privilege, not surprisingly) push the idea that the living have an obligation to continue the ways of the past.

That’s nonsense.

No one asks to be born.

That choice is made by their parents, and a choice someone else made can’t obligate you.

(If anything, choosing to create a new person obligates their parents to hand over to the next generation a world that’s at least as good as the one they themselves were born into.)

This is important.

It’s fundamental to the modern idea of the State, for one thing: you’re born into a country, and expected to support and even idolize it because of that.

You’re told that this means you owe that country something; that you are obligated to work for its benefit.

But that’s exactly backwards.

You didn’t chose where or as whom you would be born, or even whether you would be born at all.

By any reasonable understanding of the claim that States exist at the consent of the governed (to use the popular phrasing), the country is obligated to ask for that consent and to give each new citizen an opportunity to negotiate it freely.

But no State does that, or has even tried it.

And until they do you don’t owe a debt to the past, but (if you’re a parent) you do owe a debt to the future.

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