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Could you make me clear about the sentence below:

What we owe is only our fair share of the burden of securing for others what they are owed.

Would the meaning change if we changed that last part to "what they owe"?

What we owe is only our fair share of the burden of securing for others what they owe.

What I am unclear is this phrase: of securing for others what they are owed.

There are several meanings for the word of "secure."

The context is an article of New York Times:

"Our obligations to make the world better are limited by simple principle: What we owe is only our fair share of the burden of securing for others what they are owed."

The fuller context is:

This ideal of a liberal education is profoundly democratic, aiming at enlarging the possibilities and the contributions of the largest possible number of people. It’s good news that there are more first-generation college students than there used to be. Such an education enables and encourages people to be capable citizens, better able to evaluate the arguments that circulate in public life and better positioned to take the obligations of citizenship seriously.

But all these benefits depend on students’ being prepared for the courses they take and their being engaged with them in a serious way. The value of education comes not from their mere physical presence in the classroom or the lab or the library but from their doing course work as well as they can. If students aren’t prepared, if they don’t have the right motivations, if they don’t have the necessary time or resources for study, or if professors don’t have the time to give them the attention they need, the value of a college education is diminished.

Where do you come in? Our obligations to make the world better are limited by a simple principle: What we owe is only our fair share of the burden of securing for others what they are owed. What has gone wrong at your university won’t be set right by anything that can reasonably be expected of you.

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    What's unclear about the sentence? Have you checked the dictionary for the words you have problems with? – Maciej Stachowski Aug 6 '18 at 14:50
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    Please provide: The source of the quote, exactly why you think this is hard to understand and what you think it means. – James K Aug 6 '18 at 15:25
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securing for others there can be paraphrased as "making sure they receive".

So you cannot change what they are owed to what they owe, not unless you wish to admit a scenario like this:

A owes B money. C owes A money. C needs to pay A so that A can pay B what A owes B.

"Our obligations to make the world better are limited by simple principle: What we owe is only our fair share of the burden of making sure others receive what they are owed."

  • I sincerely appreciate your time and answer for this question. your paraphrase is so clear to me. Now I understood the sentence. – marianne song Aug 7 '18 at 14:34

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