What constitutes our obligation to others?
Is doing no harm sufficient or does each of us have an obligation to actively reach out to help others?
Do you think that those who believe in a hereafter are more inclined to be philanthopic than those who do not?
Is altruism natural or is it learned behavior?
The world is a better place when people reach out to help one another. But personally, my expectations are not that high. So in the end, all I really ask (and expect) from most people is that they not do anything that directly harms me. Expecting much more than that will inevitably lead to a great deal of frustration.
Having grown up with siblings I can tell you altruism is not "natural". The concept of sharing has to be taught. In fact love for that matter is taught in many ways. I can't tell you how often I have heard parents coaching their toddlers to say, "I love you grandma". Naturally the child does not (know) the meaning of what he or she is saying. Over the years they learn to say it every time they say good-bye.
As we get older we meet people and start having crushes or befriending them which leads us to share in hopes of getting them to like us. Parents, churches, and other organizations sell us on the idea of helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves. The government offers us tax deductions to encourage charitable donations. I imagine there are some people who are natural "givers" but I'm also certain if the government did not offer tax deductions there would be a major reduction in charitable donations.
I am not sure whether your take is cynical or realistic. I wonder whether there are stages in learnng to share as in other areas of development or taste.
But what about what we feel when seven a stranger falls or a pet is hurt while near us?
Clive Donegal I believe cynical responses are often grounded in some aspects of reality. I'm not exactly a bible thumper but I seem to recall there were 10 Commandments put forth by God, Thy shall not kill, steal.. Apparently kindness wasn't natural
Obligation is like a favor to be returned. But it must not lead to danger or harmful act. When someone had done something for you in the past to overcome obstacles or problems, you will be asked to return the favor as an obligation. Again, this must not be something bad as you are not oblige to do so even though you may have owed that favor.
I think the relationship we have, the kinds of relationships we want to have, and the kind of existence we prefer to experience determines our obligations. For instance, all parents are obligated to raise healthy children of high standards, morals, and values, if those parents decide they want the future for those children to be better (although bad things happen regardless) but not worse than it would be if those parents were not obligated to raise upright children. You don't have to be religious to be good. I would imagine with the exception of atheists, all people have a spirituality about them (It doesn't matter how you term your worship). What you believe about life after death has nothing to do with who you are as a person, the character you've developed and your inner feelings of obligation to fulfill certain desires that may be for the better of the world. Perfect example; the child raised in a prejudice, abusive, or unloving household who grows up to become the exact opposite of everything one would assume they "should" be.
I think that our obligation to others, if we can call it that, is to extend to him the same respect, compassion and love that we would want others to extend to us.
I think that obligation and altruism are two very different things.
Clearly, there is no literal obligation, as in absolute requirement. People do anything and are not struck down by a bolt of lightning. So, in this world, the fact is that there are serial killers, rapists, slave drivers and slave owners, and political and economic leaders responsible for death and misery for millions.
That said, I think the world would work well if we met two levels of obligation: general and specific. The general level is recognized in all world religions, and begins with harmlessness, then specifically includes not killing, not stealing, not screwing around, not lying, and (in Buddhism) not getting totally wasted.
Specific obligations have to do with our roles. If we are parents, let's be effective parents. As children, let's be effective children. As spouses, friends, fellows in community, workers and bosses, let's act with integrity, honesty, effective communication, and openness.
Wouldn't a world like that be great. It just makes sense! That's my view of the benefits of social obligation.
And, beyond all of that, altruism is a wonderful gift in the heart - all too often, hidden in the heart - of every human being. May we naturally extend love, care, and support to all beings and the entire world.
Then, too, there are freedom, and creativity, and living true to our personal mission. May we find a way do to these, and do them in harmony with our beneficial obligations, and in balance with altruism.
We have survival instints in us and as humans we live like cattle or horses, that is to say, in packs or clans or groups. We keep together for safety reasons and want to be around those like us! With that said, it is only natural we want to help those around us, because we know they will help us in return. There is an obligation to living and surviving! Altruism is seen in all walks of life, but I am not sure it is learned as much as it might be a fluke in the phsychological department.
We have as much obligation to others as we expect from others. If we wish, however, to be more then acknowledged as up to par, we have the obligation to matter in the lives of our friends. It is a matter of how much we wish for how much we are willing to pay. For myself, I am obliged to give my all to help my friends and any who will allow it to be the best they will permit themselves to be.
I think it's our obligation as human beings to help each other in a time of need. I always think if it were me would I want help... I always follow that golden rule "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
I don't think I could live with myself if I could have helped someone in need and didn't! If we only think of ourselves and our own families then what is the point to life? Aren't we all one big family of Homo Sapiens?
I think our obligation is to actively help others as best that we are able. This will promote growth and cooperation in a society if we all cared enough to reach out and help others. I think that people who believe in some kind of after life will be more inclined to help others because they would want to go to a better world next life. For me altruism is natural, I like to give to others when I am able, I just think it it the right thing to do.
If I am financially able to give to help another without causing that person to become someone who is looking for help always, then I believe it is my obligation to help. If I cannot help financially then I should give of my time or in some other way help out.
I do believe in an afterlife but cannot speak for all who do or do not believe the way I do. My belief in being obliged to help others has nothing to do with that belief however.
For me, my feeling that I should help others who need it comes from the way I was raised. I was raised by my family that we are in 'this' together...and helping others is part of my life's work.
Doesn't obligation imply coercion? Which means a person doesn't really care, but feels obliged. To care means you give good attention. I mean, to everything; which implies clarity. When you see it, you do it. I say it will just happen: The care, the compassion; it comes from intelligence and clarity. People who do not care, who are ruthless, who have disregard are people who are unaware; which means they are inwardly divided, conflicted, unclear.
I think people use the word "obligation" in different ways. What you talk about, I call "external obligation," and I see it as coercion, as you do. Some people are nourished by a religious or internal sense of obligation that can be quite healthy.
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