Obligation

Parenting: Affection without sentiment, authority without cruelty, discipline without aggression, humor without ridicule, sacrifice without obligation, companionship without possessiveness.

It is dangerous to take human freedom for granted, to regard it as a prerogative rather than as an obligation, as an ultimate fact rather than as an ultimate goal. It is the beginning of wisdom to be amazed at the facts of our being free.

The ultimate grounding of obligation, and finally of all morality, is a single but universal relationship between each and all… a sense of duty grounded in the recognition of the intrinsic worth of persons.

To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor. Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.

A moral obligation is no less compelling because it may end in failure.

One ought to both be feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to be wanting… Love is held by a chain of obligation, which men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose; but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails.

It was and it is to do all that can be done to eradicate an evil thing out of our civilization… a thing so incredibly wicked that it would not have been believable of modern man if it had not actually occurred. This evil, this wickedness began with intolerance and hate in a few men’s hearts. It spread until it almost wrecked the world. Now the obligation is to remember, not in hate, not in the spirit of revenge, but so that this spirit cannot ever flourish again so long as man remains on earth. And to this end, let us begin, each of us, by looking into our own hearts.

A right is not effectual by itself, but only in relation to the obligation to which it corresponds... An obligation which goes unrecognized by anybody loses none of the full force of its existence. A right which goes unrecognized by anybody is not worth very much.

It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.

The source of my obligation is the value I place on the relatedness of caring.

Remember always that you have not only the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.

It is safe to assume that the actions of our ancestors were guided by gratitude, obligation, retribution, and indignation before they developed enough language capacity for moral discourse.

Prayer stamps with its indelible mark our actions and demeanor. A tranquility of bearing, a facial and bodily repose are observed in those whose inner lives are thus enriched. Within the depths of consciousness a flame kindles. And man sees himself. He discovers his selfishness, his silly pride, his fear, his greeds, his blunder. He develops a sense of moral obligation, intellectual humility. Thus begins a journey of the soul toward the realm of grace.

So far there has been no known human society in which the distinction between right and wrong, and the obligation to do right, have been denied.

Thinking for oneself is always arduous and is sometimes painful. The temptation to stop thinking and to take dogma on faith is strong. Yet, since the intellect does possess the capacity to think for itself, it also has the impulse and feels the obligation. We may therefore feel sure that the intellect will always refuse, sooner or later, to take traditional doctrines on trust.

[Man’s] self-conscious existence as man forces on him a choice of uses for his faculties... This choice is what is called free will. Free will, therefore, not only a prerogative but an obligation for man. Free will thus understood, has nothing to do with destiny. It is a power which man is compelled by his own nature to use, whether the use he makes of it is predestined or not... the responsibility of deciding rests with me just the same whether the outcome is predetermined or not. If it is predetermined, it is my own past habit-forming and character-forming decisions in this and previous lifetimes which have predetermined it; and this decision in its turn will help to condition my mind, thus determining future ones.

Is not beauty created at every encounter between a man and life, in which he repays his debt by focusing on the living moment all the power which life has given him as an obligation? Beauty - for the one who pays his debt. For others, too, perhaps.

You have to turn might into duty and right into obligation. In effect, societies are ruled either by coercion or manipulation, by deceit, cheating, ideology, or by power. How do you get to normative order that avoids the excesses of things? That is the basic problem.

War suspends the rules of moral obligation, and what is long suspended is in danger of being totally abrogated. Civil wars strike deepest of all into the manners of the people. They vitiate their politics; they corrupt their morals; they pervert their natural taste and relish of equity and justice. By teaching us to consider our fellow-citizens in a hostile light, the whole body of our nation becomes gradually less dear to us. The very nature of affection and kindred, which were the bond of charity, whilst we agreed, become new incentives to hatred and rage, when the communion of our country is dissolved.