Our Obligation to Society

 

Obligation can appear as a commitment solely enforced through law due to its forceful nature. However, moral obligation is also present within individuals as well as society. Within our own society there are a number of ethical issues that can be perceived differently—all of which due to the wide array of numerous morals each individual lives by. For instance, a woman has been married to her husband for only one year. The newlyweds are still undecided whether or not they want a child in the future, but for now, they would like to simply enjoy each other. Within months, the woman learns she has become pregnant despite taking all possible preventative measures. After discussing the issue with her husband, she concludes to abort the child. She figures they did everything they could to prevent pregnancy; therefore she is justified in her decision. Also, they are not yet ready.  In this case, abortion is okay for the woman due to the circumstance she is dealt, yet another woman’s point of view may have differed. In other cases, another woman may presume this instance to be her fate and despite circumstance, she disagrees with aborting her unborn child. What is important to consider in this hypothetical situation is that in the end, each individual has morals, yet all differ upon what some believe is right, others wrong, and how to consider the circumstances. Although there is no concrete moral code to uphold among society, moral obligation remains vital and through that, what about other pressing ethical issues? I believe society is morally obligated to others in many situations such as helping those who face poverty, and preventing war due to its effect on the weak and marginal. In addition, we must also eliminate the death penalty due to its harsh measures on those who are usually poor and weak.

 

Having demonstrated the importance of obligations to others, I assert that implementing moral obligation can be successful by assisting individuals who face poverty. The world’s poverty gap is far too wide and must be bridged immediately. According to the World Bank, the world poverty gap lies at $1.25 per day[1]. What is important to realize is that while many people live comfortably, largely among Western Europe as well as the United States and others, there are people living in countries such as Brazil, El Salvador, and Somalia who struggle to survive solely due to the shortage of food and water. While others spend money on unnecessary material items, people are starving and fighting to survive. It is a wide gap that I believe must be eliminated. Anyone who lives comfortably or has the luxury to buy unnecessary material items should be obligated to help those in need. Those who face extreme poverty are weak and marginalized. They most likely have a slim chance of working to attain a comfortable lifestyle and therefore should be protected.

 

Many believe that it is not required nor is it our problem to help those in need. Ultimately, they may be of a different nationality or perceived to have gotten into those positions by their own actions. However, the reality is that we are all human. Despite nationality or race, we as a society are obligated to protect life and those fighting for it due to their circumstances. It is an undeserving situation no matter who the individual and it is up to us to end it and bridge the gap. According to Famine, Affluence, and Morality by Peter Singer, “[. . .] if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it.”[2] If we are in the means and without succumbing to the level of poverty this person may be in, then we are obligated to do so because they are weak and helpless in their position.

 

Along with the issue of poverty, our moral obligation to others is also successful by extending it to the eradication of war. War also is an instance where the weak and innocent are wrongfully effected. Take for example the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War. My Lai was located in South Vietnam where agitated troops ultimately opened fire on weak and innocent civilians:

 

 As the ‘search and destroy’ mission unfolded, it soon degenerated into the massacre

of over 300 apparently unarmed civilians including women, children, and the elderly. [William Calley] ordered his men to enter the village firing, though there had been no report of opposing fire. According to eyewitness reports offered after the event, several old men were bayoneted, praying women and children were shot in the back of the head, and at least one girl was raped and killed.[3]

 

Although it can be argued that it was a one-time occurrence where these troops should not have opened fire, the death of human beings is inevitable in war. These troops may not have been in their right mind at the time, and all due to the formality or war and what it causes physically and psychologically. Had the United States and Vietnamese officials negotiated, this atrocity could have been eliminated. More efforts must be taken to prevent the outcome of war. That is one of the important issues of why an individual is elected into office- for his/her leadership. It is our obligation as well as our leadership to prevent war at all costs—even if that mean months of talks and meetings. If two leaders are unable to come to an agreement, more officials should step in to provide objectiveness and possible solutions.

 

Conviction that some negotiations are impossible to make can be seen through the Camp David Accords II, where former president Bill Clinton made the effort of bargaining the Middle East conflict between former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.  The accords were to end the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians. Ultimately, President Clinton did not give up, however. Time ran out and elections took place, ultimately implementing a new leader in replace of Ehud Barak.[4] As a result, violence is a reoccurring issue within the Middle East and innocent victims die every day due to the holy war. Had all leaders persisted to come to a collective agreement, much of this would not be an issue. In retrospect, we as humans are obligated to help the weak and marginalized. By preventing war, this can occur and innocent victims would not lose their lives as frequently.

 

In order to enact our obligation to others, assisting victims of poverty and preventing war must be supported, and it follows that we should also eliminate the death penalty. In many cases throughout history, there have been heinous crimes committed that outweigh others. Nevertheless, all result in victims dying. Yet, what must be remembered is we are replacing what those murderers did with a punishment that is of equal or more value. According to From Justice, Civilization, and the Death Penalty: Answering van den Haag by Jeffrey H. Reiman, “Calling for the abolition of the death penalty, though it be just, then, amounts to urging that as a society we place execution in the same category of sanction as beating, raping, and torturing, and treat it as something it would also not be right for us to do to offenders, [. . .].”[5] It is our obligation to not repeat the same injustice these criminals commit. However, it is also important to note that in many cases, these criminals are also weak and marginalized themselves. Within the conditions they were raised, there is likely to have been some traumatic experiences that left them mentally ill or vengeful. We must look beyond using the scapegoat of capital punishment and possibly implement other programs that can rehabilitate or help these people.

 

It is possible that not everyone can be rehabilitated, but through this we must be able to draw the line and impose punishment by means of life in prison rather than rehabilitation and instead of the death penalty. For example, after killing 77 people, Norway’s Anders Behring Breivik was sentenced the maximum in Norway of 21 year in prison. It was clear Breivik was not mentally ill; he acted as an apparent terrorist and anti-Islamic killer. According to Why Norway is Satisfied with Breivik’s Sentence by Mark Lewis of the Time World Newspaper, “For the survivors and the bereaved families, a sane man [was] properly punished, while Breivik [felt he could] still burnish his credentials as a political terrorist, without being written off as a madman.”[6] There was a clear distinction Breivik was not mentally ill. Although rehabilitation is an aspect of society’s obligation to prevent the death penalty, we must also be able to distinguish which criminals even serve the qualifications or genuinely need help rather than those, like Breivik, who cannot be tamed. More so, it is our obligation to prevent the death penalty and protect the weak and marginalized—in many cases, they murder and commit crimes due to these very reasons. By that, instead of choosing the death penalty, we must make an effort to identify the root of the cause and see if it is possible to change this person.

 

 

More so, we as a society have an obligation to assist others that are weak and marginalized in society. Through this means we are obligated to help human beings facing poverty, prevent war because it ultimately leads to the circulation of innocent deaths, and lastly, we must prevent the death penalty because it repeats the criminals’ mistakes while not considering they too may be the victim of marginalization. Although obligation may seem like a choice everyone should make on a personal level, why not implement a system of moral guidelines that creates a maxim for society regarding moral obligation? It is ideal for no one to suffer from starvation while the issue can easily be prevented. For that matter, why not instill a moral code that individuals can look and live by as a set of guidelines? There is no need to make it a law, however it should be a code that is commonly stressed and spoken by. It is also ideal for war not to occur; therefore we as a people must step in when officials cannot negotiate. We must force them to come to an agreement because war is not an option, and if they cannot, we improvise until there is a solution. Lastly, I believe it is ideal to prevent the death penalty because it repeats the act of the criminal and does not address the root of why the criminal committed such an act. Why not see if there is hope for that person? Then after, we can determine his/her fate.  Society is responsible for each and every situation. We must step in and make a change through obligation, because without it, there would be no change made.


[1] “The World Bank,”

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.GAPS

 [2] “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.” Peter Singer

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/trenches/my_lai.html

 [4] “History of Failed Peace Talks.” BBC News

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6666393.stm

 [5] From Justice, Civilization, and the Death Penalty: Answering van den Haag.” Jeffrey H. Reiman

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Euthanasia: A Situation to Always Rethink

Euthanasia—it always seemed like the way to go for me. Why not pull the plug or end someone’s life, whom you have been told is in pain or suffering? And for that matter, what happens when it is a person that you most deeply love and cherish?

I always tried putting myself in these situations. If I were suffering, I would certainly want someone to pull the plug. I understand to fight for your life is ideal and can lead to miraculous healing. However, sometimes we just have to face reality and realize that someone could be in pain while we contemplate whether to keep or let go.

After reading The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia by J. Gay-Williams, there are many other components that are crucial in making the ultimate decision. For instance, Gay-Williams states, “a mistaken diagnosis is possible, and so is a mistaken prognosis. Consequently, we may believe that we are dying of a disease when, as a matter of fact, we may not be.”

Misdiagnoses’ happen more frequently than we think. It would be a complete mistake to not research further or consider this. After all, nowadays society has developed hundreds of diseases, illnesses, etc., that supposedly allow us to believe we are abnormal or that we are different. Yet as Gay-Williams states, “recently, many psychiatrists and sociologists have argued that we define as ‘mental illness’ those forms of behavior that we disapprove of. This gives us license then to lock up those who display the behavior.” These ideas ultimately become embedded into our minds, leading us to believe there is always something wrong. Eventually, even the most subtle or unserious situations can eventually seem crucial due to ‘mental-illness’ information overload. All this can be misleading in allowing us to believe the less severe illnesses are unmanageable or hopeless.

For example, if your mother or close family member is being held on life support due to some type of disease or illness, you are likely to entrust and rely on your doctor. The doctor, who has a wide spectrum of knowledge about these diseases then explains it is severe or hopeless to change, and what are you supposed to think?

I believe we have to be critical. In addition to this doctor’s wide array of knowledge on these types of illnesses, who is to say he/she is correct about the sickness or even the level of sickness? Who is to say this doctor is simply exaggerating the illness due to his/her inclination that your close family member is better off dead? Also, the reality is, nobody has you or your family’s best interest in mind the way you do, therefore someone might just not care as much

More so, it is always the easy thing to do and believe what you hear. It is always easier to jump to the conclusion that a person, may in fact be suffering dreadfully. However, we must all remember to keep open minds and consider that not all doctors have the truth or even the best interest of another. It is natural for us to entrust them, yet rather than agreeing, we need to possibly do our own research and question whether these situations are actually feasible within the particular circumstances.

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The Death Penalty is a Scapegoat for Punishment

Executions By County MapThe death penalty is a widely debated topic. For some, the death penalty is a sigh of relief; a way to do away with the ‘evil’ that encompassed the men or women who were sentenced. On the other hand, others believe not even the most evil person should have his/her life taken away. That fact can be supported by religious beliefs or simply humanistic beliefs that say a person’s life should not be taken away.

I believe we should not summon any criminal or even murderer to the death penalty, despite the crime the individual may have committed.

I even speak for those who may have committed the most heinous crimes in history. My support does not necessarily come from religion. It comes from the fact that summoning an individual to the death penalty serves as a scapegoat for the prisoner’s actions.

Ernest Van Den Haag states : “others insist that a person sentenced to death suffers more than his victim suffered, and that this (excess) suffering is undue” [. . .].”

He then goes on to counter that with the idea that punishment “is not intended to revenge, offset, or compensate for the victim’s suffering, or to be measured by it. Punishment is to vindicate the law and the social order undermined by the crime.”

But why can’t it be seen the opposite way?  Lethal injections and other subtle approaches to death do not allow the criminal to experience grief, anguish, fear and other factors that probably occurred as they committed to their own victim(s). Besides “vindicating the law,” why not simply rule out the death penalty option and allow that person to stay in prison for the duration of his/her life?

Of course there are issues to consider such as overcrowding and the extreme level of how an individual is perceived to be completely crazy and out of his/her mind.

First, the reality is that allowing overcrowding does cause risks. However, these murderers and criminals are committing an ultimate crime that in my opinion, justifies the reasoning that we should not take extra measures to accommodate them. If there are too many inmates, then there are too many. We also should remember that many are killed every day due to the level of violence within the prisons. Ultimately, I do not believe we should give much consideration to overcrowding. Just put them all together and allow whatever to happen. They each made a choice and that choice has consequences. What comes with those consequences will not be the best of circumstances.

Lastly, there is also the issue that certain criminals are just too dangerous to keep alive. This adds to my point before. Why not integrate them along with other inmates and just let it be. Even the most dangerous criminals deserve some type of punishment without the copout of having to be lethally injected, etc.

Well that is my opinion. What do you guys think?

Tell Me What I Already Know

The United Nations Millennium Goal: End Poverty and Hunger.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ7s89I3f_8

Singer, although good in theory expresses an extreme way to deal with the devastation of world hunger and other life-threatening issues.

On one hand I can put myself in Singer’s position. It is ridiculous to know people are spending hundreds of dollars on useless expenses such as pet grooming, plastic surgeries, etc., instead of helping human beings who are fighting to stay alive. I understand that this can suddenly cause a sense of urgency; a desire/responsibility to help out. In reality, whenever much of us are told or presented with these facts, we momentarily enter into a state of longing to help. Yet those feelings quickly fade off and we continue on to the lives we are used to living. Primarily, for us as a first world, we tend to divert our attention to what is in-style; what is the next city to see or the next out-of-the-box restaurant to eat at. It’s simply a part of who we are and how we live.

The point is that we see and are aware of the issue at hand. We care but the issue is simply too large for one person to focus all their attention on. We want to help, but it is out of reach. In addition, we are bombarded with the lifestyles of our own personal likings. That idea that people are dying in Bengal is once again stored into our wealth of knowledge, yet we feel powerless in its intimidating place along a grander scale.

And yet if we choose to go as far as Singer, it is almost as if we all must conform into one Socialistic society that allows everyone to catch up before we continue on to our consumer-driven lives. Although I understand and acknowledge Singer’s premise, I believe there is another type of effective solution that can have more realistic results.

I believe this all boils down to education and the amount that is embedded into our minds. We are periodically told about wars, famine, hunger, etc. that take place in other countries. We see it in commercials, movies, school lectures, and more. I believe as long as it is treated ‘lightly’ there will never be much of an effective change. People should not have to come across the issue through something that is shown every once-in-a-while. In some type of effort, us as human beings should be held accountable for what we know but are not acting on. That does not mean to strip us down from our materialistic lifestyles (even though that would be helpful). It means incorporating this type of education in corporations, schools and the work-place. It should be just as routine as the pledge of allegiance once was. We would repeatedly be told what is going on. Then, I believe, there would be a greater possibility of recourse and response.

Educating on a repetitive, effective level could ultimately lead to a greater amount of success.

Ten Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

Nowadays it is obvious that everyone is out to make a profit. To make that profit means grabbing the attention of its viewers or audience, and at all costs.

Large corporations, high fashion brands and more have succumbed to creating demeaning ads and degrading the entire gender of women. But what exactly does this do? It seems like instead of creating some type of effective marketing wave that attracts consumers, there is some sort of rite of passage for those brands who have reached a large amount of success. I have never really seen a less popular brand advertise the way these companies do. Aside from solely high fashion, once these particular brands attain a certain level of achievement and a ‘reputation,’ sexually violent ads seem to be the next step.

I guess you can say it is more risky on their part—perhaps they are trying to make some type of statement to maintain that level of popularity and rebel against what majority of society deems morally wrong or politically incorrect. After all, if there is something that is wrong or extremely vulgar, it is within our nature to give it more attention because it stirs controversy.

However, aside from the not-so-justified reason for these brands advertising in this manner, it does take society two steps back. While so many groups and organizations fight to build the role of women and emphasize their importance in society, these corporations and their ads are completely challenging progression.

Yes, we have come a long way. Within the 20th century, women stepped out of the ordinary housewife role, gained the right to vote, etc., which ultimately reflects the mere evolution of the situation at hand.

I do not believe we should allow these types of ads to be marketed. Aside from the overall portrayal of women, we must have a respect for women who have unfortunately dealt with rape. In addition, what about the young girls AND BOYS who will be seeing these ads? This can ultimately show that maybe it is normal for such instances to occur.

Aside from earning profit and giving into our capitalistic nature, these brands need to maintain a certain level of respect for society in general.

Porn– It’s not that bad!

 Men And Pornography

After reading “A Feminist Defense of Pornography,” by Wendy McElroy, I could not help but think about its portrayal of how women have become a marginalized, yet helpless group that is sucked into the evils of pornography. Yes, in many cases it does give us a bad reputation just to think that women would expose their bodies so openly and publicly.

However, most of these women that take part in porn agree to do so. Anyone can choose to do it and is not necessarily forced to take part in porn. It is ultimately a career path; a decision on how to make a living.

In addition, many women enjoy this so-called profession.

Although it is deemed degrading and shameful to the woman’s gender, I believe that there also can be some good found in it. Every side has its reasoning and to allow pornography, I believe, does not bring much harm, UNLESS a person takes it too far.

For example, porn is a versatile use of sexual expression. For individuals and couples alike, porn can bring satisfaction in aspects that are creative and different. What if someone’s partner believes that this can bring a little ‘spice’ to their sex life? As long as the other partner agrees, then what is the big deal?

As for individuals, porn can play a major role in bringing satisfaction without having to look for someone to partake in a one-night-stand. It’s a safer, easier option that allows privacy and an individual’s desires to be fulfilled.

Of course these all are the pros of porn, yet people make it a problem by taking it too far. By that I mean becoming addicted or thinking that instead of having a relationship, porn can be the main source of satisfaction. In addition, the very idea stated before where women are exploited also serves as an aspect that can be taken too far.

Why not think that in this beneficial way of entertainment and satisfaction, women are actually partaking in the ability to have a good sex life or stay creative? Let’s face it—porn has the potential to teach and allow people to become more educated on technique and how to strive for good sex. With women participating, they are actually helping other everyday women, as well as men, be comfortable with their bodies and be more confident in the bedroom.

More so, many of these women choose to do porn, therefore they do not have to be perceived as helpless victims with no control over their bodies.

Just Keep it Simple

According to the first reading by Robert Fullinwider, I found it very interesting how both sides of the argument could be valid to an extent, no matter how outlandish they may seem.

On one hand, it is seems ridiculous to have an actual quota of how many different races should make up a percentage of employees at a company. I did think how Fullinwider questioned the notion: “Why is there ever a need for more? Why is there ever a need actually to impose racial or gender quotas? Or to risk their being adopted by firms”? However, the reality is that discrimination, no matter how much we want to deny it, is still present. By explaining the fact that quotas help to limit discrimination even despite our society’s modernity, there are aspects that show it really is not that bizarre.

I on the other hand, still am not completely persuaded by implementing quotas into today’s work force. Although it may seem as though we have been integrated into a society that may even be blinded by present discrimination that we overlook because it is something we are so used to, we as human beings have control. For example, Fullinwider states, “if we’ve built a whole world around discrimination, then many of the ways the world discriminates may not be visible to us even when we go looking.”

Whatever may be engrained in our minds can be reversed. By keeping open minds and thinking critically about these issues, it is in fact possible to view the level of discrimination we have today and what actions we can take. Although Fullinwider identifies this can be problematic because there seems to be no solution, as human beings with intellect and origins from different backgrounds, I believe it is possible to overcome this issue by way of discussion and deep thought.  

In reference to the work force, through solid effort and a focus to seek the best-fitted employees possible, there should be absolutely no consideration of race or color—even if the end result is more blacks than whites or vice versa. An individual should and must be considered strictly for her talents, achievements and potential contributions that can be made to the company.