Next to ingratitude the most painful thing to bear is gratitude. - Henry Ward Beecher
I once read a story about a foreigner in 18th century Japan. While traveling along the edge of a river with his local guide, they saw a man gasping for breath as being drag by the rapids. He attempts to help but his companion admonished “I won’t save him if I were you. You’ll just bring more misery to him worst than his predicament now”. Baffled, the foreigner asks why and the guide explained: “In this part, we take gratitude seriously. If you save him, he’ll be in your debt until he also saves your life. In order to do that, he should be at your side at all times. Since you’re a stranger here, he has no choice but to leave his family and love ones behind. A sacrifice more awful than death”.
That is a tall order to achieve. But at least it has an ending if the man saves the foreigner’s life. On the other hand, we Filipinos put the standard a notch higher. We’re in debt forever if somebody did us a favor. Unlike Americans and Europeans, who consider an obligation repaid when a favor is settled with another favor, we are beholden to an individual for the rest of our life.
Politicians know this and capitalize on this twisted mind-set to stay in power. Dispensing favors here and there, legally or otherwise, to their “lideres”. In return, expects their support every election. This was illustrated comically by Imelda when asked what she thinks of their “friends” when her family fell from grace. She said it quite literally “They don’t have debt inside”. Translated in tagalog as “Wala silang utang na loob”. I guess, to her, 20 years in power isn't enough to repay an old debt.
Priests are also guilty of the same manipulation. Since childhood, they keep drumming inside our head, that our Lord gave His life in order to save us from sins we didn’t commit in the first place. The “brain washing” is so effective that we dare not go against the Church’s wishes or else suffer the fate of eternal damnation. An enigma to me, even if logic dictates that to do otherwise means a better life for us and our family.
Parents as well hold this belief. When you ask couples why they bear children, typically the response will be “so there is somebody to take care of us when we grow old”. First of all, the child didn’t ask to be born. Children have no obligation to take care of their parents. If they do take care of us, it is not because it’s their responsibility but because of love and respect for their parents. On the contrary, parents have duties and responsibility to raise their offspring decently and mold them to be productive members of society. We didn't brought them in this world to obligate them to fulfill what ever whim, needs and wants that cross our minds.
I don’t know about my wife, but when I grow old, I won’t hold it against my daughter if some stranger in white robe wipes my behind instead of her doing it. I am content with the idea that I raised her in a good environment and educated the best way I can afford. I’ll deem myself a failure as a parent if I can't do so.