Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Handling Wrong-Doing and Debt

Handling Wrong-Doing: A Look at Both Sides of the Line.

I have not posted here in some time, and as I was reading through some older works, I came across this which I felt needed to be shared. What follows is a piece I wrote as a facebook note under my T. W. Hrafn page, which I use for my creative works (poems, stories, etc.). However, as not everyone has facebook, I felt I should repost it here, where it seems much more fitting. Aside from this new introductory paragraph and some formatting differences, the body of the work should be largely unchanged. Spelling issues found when editing the formatting here were corrected on the original post as well.The original post may be found here.

At some point, each of us will wrong another, and another will wrong us. Very likely, several instances of both will occur. We may try our best to avoid wronging others, but it will still happen, and we have no control over others wronging us. What I present here is how I view the relationships that form when one man wrongs another, as well what I see as the only moral way to handle such situations.

I present it in a way that invokes no religion or system of belief except my own. You may agree or disagree with what I write here, but that is for you, and you alone; please refrain from telling me what I think and/or feel on the subject.

When someone wrongs another, the wrong-doer owes the wronged a debt, as surely as if he had borrowed money or an item, such as a book, or a tool. What follows the wronging is much the same as what would follow in the case of a debt.

A debt ends in one of two ways, it is either repaid and the matter settled, or forgiven. Sometimes, a debt may be repaid in part, and the remainder on that debt is forgiven. But these are mutually exclusive terms.

  • A debt repaid is not forgiven, but the matter settled, and put behind the parties involved.
  • A debt forgiven has not been repaid, and therefore, not settled.

The preferred method of closure is for the debt to be repaid and the matter settled. While the louse may find forgiveness the better ending, forgiveness leave a person of character with the stress that comes from owing an debt, and leaving such a matter unsettled. Repaying a debt in a fair way also strengthens the relationship between those involved, while forgiveness can often cause animosity and strife between the parties.

If someone wrongs you, or owes you a debt for any reason, if they acknowledge it:
  • Do not forgive them
  • Let him know how he can make it right
  • Be fair, if what you ask of him is too little, the debt can not be repaid on it, and both parties will be unfulfilled.
  • Be fair, if what you ask of him is too much, you are taking advantage, and wronging him.
  • Haggling over how to make amends is a good thing. It opens communication and lets the you tell the wrong-doer how much you think you were wronged, while at the same time, finding out how much he feels that he has wronged you.
If you wrong someone, then:
  • Acknowledge it, let him know.
  • Tell him you want to make it right.
  • Think up ways you could make it right and ask which one is most acceptable.
  • Do not ask to be forgiven.
  • Haggling over how to make amends is a good thing. It opens communication and lets you tell him how much you think you have wronged him, while at the same time, finding how how much he feels he has been wronged.

This applies to any wrong, be it for a good reason or not. For example, if you give your word to someone, and you break your word, even if it was for a noble reason, you still broke your word, and your honor is tarnished. You have wronged the one to whom you gave your word, and you owe that person a debt, he may keep your reasoning in mind when deciding how you can make amends, but that is for him, not you, to take into account.

Many of these suggestions may also come into play when non-monetary debts are accrued in other ways. For instance, if you help someone, even with no intention of repayment, and he asks how he can repay you (speaking of, if you are the one being helped,always ask how you can repay), follow the guidelines above. Often, debts like these can be repaid with a promise to pay it forward by helping someone else in need at some future time.

To bring this to a close, I want to say that there are some cultural conventions surrounding certain kinds of debts, try to stick to these when you can, and remember that people who go above and beyond should be rewarded as such. A few common conventions are:
  • When borrowing an item (like a hammer, or a book), return it in a timely manner in as good, or better condition than when you borrowed it. If this is not possible, replace it.
  • Provide food and drink for those helping you with all hours long tasks. (eg. Pizza & Beer for help moving)
  • If a stranger's car is stalled on a roadway, at the least, pull over and help move the car to a safe location, provided it is safe to do so. IF YOU DO NOT FEEL SAFE, DO NOT STOP. If asked how you can be repaid, request that the assisted simply pay it forward

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