Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Obligations

The little orange 'Blogger' icon winks at me from my Favourites bar. Come on it says, haven't you got anything to say, just a teeny weeny bit of something you'd like to share? 

I'm too busy, I'm at work, I've only got five minutes, I can't think of anything interesting. I DID think of something but now I've forgotten it.  Hmmm.

I'm not going to apologise, because this is my page.  I can write on it or not, as I wish. I was going to say that one should never apologise for not doing something unless one is contractually obligated to do it, but then I realised that there are few things that we are contractually obligated to do.  Employment, paying the mortgage, all sorts of financial things, marriage perhaps (especially if you are the sort of person who likes a Pre-Nup) - but probably nothing you couldn't buy your way out of.

That then made me think that argument was weak, but is it?  Do we have to apologise for things that we haven't done, when nobody asked us to do it (or said we must) in the first place?  Surely we should only need to apologise for things we HAVE done, which we shouldn't have.  Or is there a moral obligation to do things, an unspoken code of society and when we break it by not doing something we are not obligated to do, we feel guilty and have to apologise. Especially if we are British.

Last night Mr H and I watched a video on Facebook which was a montage of clips of 'the general public' doing Good Deeds such as holding doors open for a blind person, picking up a toy that a child has thrown out of a pram, preventing someone stepping front of a car, or helping a bully victim up from the floor. In each clip there was a 3rd party wordlessly watching the Good Deed be done, we assumed that they were supposed to be thinking 'I could do that'.  I complained that it was depressing that people made such a big thing (ie. making a film and spreading it around the internet) about what to me seem basic courteous actions and attitudes.  Mr H, on the other hand said that it acted as a reminder to people just how easy it is to do simple things to help others out, things that are done on impulse in an instant and take no time or trouble out of your day.  I can see his point but I still mourn the fact that those actions are an exception rather than a rule, allegedly.

I say allegedly carefully, because we can be told that society is now rude, unsociable, unfriendly and uncaring, but is that actually the case?  or is actually the norm to not slam a door in someone's face, or to help someone push their broken down car off the road, but the internet and the media think it is better to paint a grim picture of near Armageddon where no-one cares about anyone else, and we're all going to hell in a hand-cart?

Are people actually regularly complying with their moral obligations more than we are led to believe?

5 comments:

  1. On the upside, I was happy to see you posted, and just wanted to say hello. By the way, you are the first blogger to follow me outside of my friends and family! It was through Carmi's TP, which I still am a part of. Hope to see you here again-when you can!

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  2. Nice to see a post. On the acts of kindness I have read some rather interesting stuff, mainly by Richard Wiseman about how the more people who surround you the less help you will get. For example someone collapses and valuable minutes are lost as a group of people as a whole assume someone else is going to help or call for help. So as a person don't assume someone else is going to do it and if you need assistance look someone in the eye and go you yes you help me, or Erck arrk splutter *point in someones direction while grabbing chest *

    http://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/

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  3. I don't think society is rude and uncaring. I think the media likes us to think it is but then who believes anything the media says. I think the world is full of people and some of them are lovely and kind and helpful and some of them aren't.

    I always apologise for everything :-). Sorry for not having been a regular visitor to your blog, not commenting on everything, not having seen you while we were back...................

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  4. "Surely we should only need to apologise for things we HAVE done, which we shouldn't have. Or is there a moral obligation to do things, an unspoken code of society and when we break it by not doing something we are not obligated to do, we feel guilty and have to apologise."

    I have a moral obligation. Now, I don't know about anyone else--only me. I'm a 'first responder' by choice, not by profession. That being said--I will not go past a scene of an accident without ensuring that the people are being helped. Do other cars whiz by? Yes. Are they whizzing by solely on what they assume is 'a car is stopped, they're being helped'? I don't know. There have been times I truly wished I knew why stopping didn't happen. Coulda used another pair of hand, frankly. Are they ignoring it? Are they pressed with their own emergency? Have they rationalized out how not stopping is the safer/wiser plan? Are they all jerks lacking morals and a sense of responsibility to another human being?

    I believe the 'bad guys' sell news papers/make the front page. And I believe we're all responsible for our choices, and (oh boy....here we go! LOL) that includes no choice. Cuz that's a choice, too.
    And do I apologize for what I haven't done that I didn't know to do.
    Absolutely.
    *laughing* And I'm a far cry from being neurotic!

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  5. Karen - Hi! and I must take a look at Carmi's page again.

    Chibi J - Good advice, I'll bear it in mind ;) There are famous psychology studies about Bystander syndrome (or something like that). Yep, someone else will always do it.

    Rosie - I totally agree about the media. And I think you've had enough on your mind recently not to worrying about blogs1

    Mel - I do to, as does Mr H (have moral obligations that is), as I'm sure do most people. But once YOU have stopped to help someone, other people are off the hook, aren't they? Or maybe it's a trap and you and the accident/break down victim might have set up an ambush to mug them. Who knows.
    Can I reserve judgement on the 'far from being neurotic' statement? :) x

    J.

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