Every success story originates with a community's support. It's our duty to pay our successes forward so that others can succeed too.
Our lives begin with the grace of our caretakers, be they parents or otherwise. We're not expected to pay back what we're given as a child, and instead we are supposed to pass along the debt to later generations.
It's a virtuous avalanche, small acts of good set off a chain of better-and-better equipped people who in turn give back even more to the world.
After childhood comes a point where we become responsible for our own development. That does not mean that community stops playing a role, however. We may pick and choose what we learn, but we're picking from the selection of what others are teaching and demonstrating.
Even if we find ourselves supremely skilled in some specific area where it seems like we do all the work ourselves, we never truly do anything alone. There were people who supported us, who got us into the right position to use our skills.
A doctor is only able to function if they have a supply chain's worth of support getting them tools and medicine. A technologist programmer can make bank because they learned skills from a wide array of people – and because of countless people working across decades to create the hardware they use, and the countless people maintaining the internet's infrastructure.
When we let go of the egotism of being "self-made," we see something far more wondrous: the cooperative spirit of people in our world. People act to help others, for a variety of reasons.
Through many tiny actions collating into large collective movements, the world is in a better place now than it was hundreds of years ago.
I am an optimist, despite a lot of cynicism I've developed from working in the tech industry. I think it's worth reflecting on the good people in the world.
There are more good people than there are evil people – it's just that some evil people have worked their way into power.
It's especially helpful for me to reflect on good people now, in a time when there's so much strife and despair. Russia launching a war, attacks on trans rights and queers in the US, and the ever-looming climate catastrophe, to name a few.
To quell such strife requires collective action. It's not something individuals can take on alone, no matter how great they are.
Which is why paying our privileges forward is such an important duty. Every person we help is another potential cooperator in the great undertaking of making a better world.
It's why I'm adamant about spending my life in pursuit of helping others:
Remember, the journey of our creation is a debt from community that we can never pay back in full – instead we must pass along what we can to others in a virtuous avalanche of accumulating privileges.
With time enough, we'll all work together to build a better world.