What is a person’s Civil Duty?
Duty (An act or a course of action that is required of one by position, social custom, law, or religion) comes from the word due, as in you owe something or someone. “See: c.1300, from Anglo-Fr. duete, from O.Fr. deu “due, owed,” from V.L. *debutus, from L. debitus, pp. of debere “to owe.” www.etymonline.com search=duty
Which brings up other ideas about the words we use, like “dereliction, obligation, observance, burden, here is an interesting one performance. All these words originate with duty, which is really due. You owe, and the debt is due, so you have a “Duty” to pay. No Debt = No Obligation, no Burden, no Performance to worry about and no possibility of Dereliction.
So “Duty” has to be imposed. You have no Duty unless you owe some one, or something. How do we know what or who we owe?
Usually someone tells us. The question, “What do I owe?” never goes unanswered for long. There are people waiting, wanting, to tell you. If “Civil Duty” is owed then we’re born into debt. When we reach a certain size the “Grown ups” start filling us in on the debt they’ve inherited.
Some other words….
Ethics And Responsibility
How does Ethics play a part in ones Civil Responsibility?
First off, if you lived in Switzerland you’d have a civil duty to serve in the Swiss Army.
In the case of a person born in Switzerland this particular “Civil Duty” is law. Citizens of Switzerland owe Switzerland this service and at some age the debt comes due. When the debt is due it is called a duty. At this point you have a Civil Duty to pay. Is this a “Civil Responsibility”?
When anyone implies that something is your “Civil Duty” ask to see where it’s written. If it is, you might want to find out who wrote it.
If we follow the meaning and usage below we can get on the same page, definition wise (thinking wise).
[“late 14c., ethik “study of morals,” from O.Fr. ethique, from L.L. ethica, from Gk. ethike philosophia “moral philosophy,” fem. of ethikos “ethical,” from ethos “moral character,” related to ethos “custom” (see ethos). Meaning “a person’s moral principles,” attested from 1650s.
We don’t care, for now, about the study of morals. Moral and Ethic are different.
moral (adj.) mid-14c., “pertaining to character or temperament” (good or bad), from O.Fr. moral, from L. moralis “proper behavior of a person in society,” lit. “pertaining to manners,” coined by Cicero (“De Fato,” II.i) to translate Gk. ethikos (see ethics) from L. mos (gen. moris) “one’s disposition,” in plural, “mores, customs, manners, morals,” of uncertain origin. Meaning “morally good, conforming to moral rules,” is first recorded late 14c. of stories, 1630s of persons. Original value-neutral sense preserved in moral support, moral victory, with sense of “pertaining to character as opposed to physical action.”]
The first thing we may notice is moral is an adjective. It describes a “noun” like character or temperament. We also see that moral is associated with “proper behavior of a person in society”. Where do morals come from? Who decides what’s moral?
If you’d like to read more on “The Origin of Morality and Ethics” you can do so at Phil For Humanity.com.
My own view is this: There is no such thing as naturally occurring “Moral”. Nor does nature need one. Remember, it’s an adjective. Only a descriptive word used by people to make a judgment on some behavior. What moral is is someone’s idea of moral.
So let’s just pretend it doesn’t exist, we’ve never heard of it and have no ideas about it. Get as free as we can of all the mental and emotional baggage.
Now if we’ve discarded moral, we’re back to Personal Ethics and Civil Duty.
Personal Ethics and Civil Duty
Civil Duty starts when and where people tell us it starts. In other words, they’re just words. A term used for communicating. Civil Duty, is an idea. Laws, are ideas.
We can also get crystal clear on why people tell us to do things. People tell other people to do things because they want something. Doesn’t matter if it’s harmless or not, in our best interests or not, that’s not the point. The point is,people always want something.
Switzerland wants the Swiss to learn how to defend Switzerland (I guess).
Knowing what we know about “Civil Duty as a Debt” we can begin to examine Civil Duty for ourselves and make decisions according to our own personal ethic. Our own rules. Most people have some base position as far as personal ethic goes. Most have decided they aren’t going to kill other people for cash. But, we may come to that because of what we’ve been taught.
Here is a good short definition of personal ethic, even though it’s titled, “The Meaning of Individual Morality”.
By, Christine Scivicque
“What are personal ethics? Does everyone have them? And what are they for? This article explores the philosophy of ethics and human nature.
Personal ethics are the moral foundation on which people build their lives. They assist in decision making, guiding you to participate in actions that meet your internal moral standards. Ethics represents the core value system you use for everyday problem solving. They create a framework for determining “right” versus “wrong”.
We read here, “Personal ethics are the moral foundation on which people build their lives.” Yes, and we know that this (moral) is a personal descriptive as judgment – based on (?) – something we were told. All that is stated above is true (as far as I can tell). I wanted to use it so we could just look at it for a minute, or a month.
What I notice about this excerpt, and all discussion on Personal Ethic, is while it’s all true, there is nothing absolute or tangible involved. We make it up as we go along and become who we become as a result. With the personality’s ideas, judgments and beliefs firmly in place, we make decisions and seek to solve problems.
Ultimately our individual personality becomes part of a community and the community reflects each some part of the individuals personality in it’s whole.
So we can see how discarding terms and phrases like morality and social responsibility doesn’t change the fact that “No Man is a Metaphysical Island”. What we do, what we think, what we decide to be and do effects the world we live in.
So as far as the whole, civil duty, morals or ethics is concerned I see the only important question is “How do I decide what to do?”. Not, how am I doing, as far as what I’ve been told I should do according to what I owe. But simply, what am I going to do, and why. Morality, ethics and all the rest are just terms used to carry out philosophical discussions. After a while they get inserted into societal language. They have no absolute meaning like wooded or laughter. But they’re there just the same, adding to the confusion.
That’s why I say we can just discard them. They interfere with our objective, self centered decidion making.
A Natural Path
“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains.” Walt Whitman
The more time I spend watching the world the more I pay attention to Nature. The why is simple, nature Works. Time has shown what goes against nature becomes a problem. Our world is packed full of problems today. So much so, we face extinction.
Can I fashion my personal code in concert with nature? Can I develop a system for decision making and problem solving that is in harmony with life itself? Is there a way to behave that is in accordance with life and the natural world?
I know that I can do this because I am a part of nature. We can do this, because everyone here and everything here is nature. You and I are products of the natural world. You could say we came out of Life. That makes us Life. Life and Nature is our nature. So when we do things against nature we develop personal problems.
The main obstacle to exercising our natural “nature” is distraction. Our social environments are the source of the distraction. We all, as individual personality, combine to form society. If we were a naturally operating naturally we would for the most part be confronted only with natural phenomena as problems, like weather or earthquakes.
I think distraction is the only thing that stands between a person and their innate nature. So, I identify distraction. I don’t become attached to it. When this is done I can stop contributing to a problematic society. I see this as my civil duty, although I don’t call it that.