Inspiration | AI FREE ARTICLE

Our Greatest Debt

How can you repay it?

Bill Abbate
6 min readOct 1, 2023


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What are your debts? Will you ever be able to repay them in full? If you are like most of us, the first thing that comes to mind is how much money you owe.

This article is about a different kind of debt. A debt no amount of money can repay.

What debts do you owe?

What do you owe to whom and why? Could you ever fully repay it? It is only natural to think about the debts we owe in dollars and cents, but this article is about more than money.

Some debts are so meaningful no amount of money can repay them. A few extend beyond life itself.

I came across something written by an 18th-century German writer, poet, and philosopher that made me ask myself the opening question in this article. The quote is:

“What do I owe to my times, to my country, to my neighbors, to my friends? Such are the questions which a virtuous man ought often to ask himself.” Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741–1801)

Besides Lavater’s list, a few other debts come to mind, such as what I owe for my heritage, family, career, and life.

We are undoubtedly indebted to our parents, whether they are alive or have passed. We are also…



Bill Abbate

Leadership Writer and Editor in ILLUMINATION, Leadership/Executive Coach, Author