In the Japanese Anime “Full Metal Alchemist: the Brotherhood” it is called the “Law of Equivalent Exchange”, in XXXholic, the main character loses one eye and almost his life because he tries to give too much away. In my own western, mostly Christian upbringing it is hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that giving away too much can be seen as bad. Through them I have come to see there is a price for everything.
“Ask and you shall receive,” that was the idea that I was brought up with and I can’t say I ever found it untrue. I can count far more wishes granted and questions answered than not. But can I say I didn’t pay for everything I got? No. Of course I always lived with a sense of duty, I didn’t pay because I had to, I paid because I could. In a spiritual sense, paying for the gifts I got came naturally. Most of the time it is easy to do.
The hardest thing I have ever had to pay for was food stamps, that is because the process for getting them is so complicated and had to be repeated so many times over the years that I realized I was paying a price I couldn’t afford, in dignity. It doesn’t seem like a necessity until you’ve lost so much over the years that you can’t remember what it felt like to have pride in yourself.
Everybody pays for their lives and lifestyles, each in their own way. Money is only one type of currency; time, respect, control, kindness and loyalty are others. We used to believe that the air we breath was free, but it comes at the price of respecting trees and the rainforests, and of regulating air pollution. The same goes for the water and the earth we stand on. Without respect for the natural world, life is not free. Babies are born terribly malformed in countries where mercury poisons are used to extract gold.
Sometimes it is overwhelming to look at the cost of taking care of this world, but it really does start with one word, respect, first for yourself, then for a friend, little by little, one step at a time. Like love and understanding respect grows, the more you give it, the more you get back.