2.03.2012

A Rebuttal to Modernity

Our Duties are Revealed by Our Relations to One Another

You are not an isolated entity, but a unique, irreplaceable part of the cosmos. Don’t forget this. You are an essential piece of the puzzle of humanity. Each of us is part of a vast, intricate, and perfectly ordered human community. But where do you fit into this web of humanity? To whom are you beholden?

Look for and come to understand you connection to other people. We properly locate ourselves within the cosmic scheme by recognizing our natural relations to one another and thereby identifying our duties. Our duties naturally emerge from such fundamental relations as our families, neighborhoods, workplaces, our state or nation. Make it your regular habit to consider your roles – parent, child, neighbor, citizen, leader – and the natural duties that arise from them. Once you know who you are and to whom you are linked, you will know what to do.

If a man is your father, for instance, certain emotional and practical claims follow from this. That he is your father implies a fundamental, durable link between the two of you. You are naturally obligated to care for him, to listen to his advice, to exercise patience in hearing his views, and to respect his guidance…

…Most people tend to delude themselves into thinking that freedom comes from doing what feels good or what fosters comfort and ease. The truth is that people who subordinate reason to their feelings of the moment are actually slaves of their desires and aversions. They are ill-prepared to act effectively and nobly when unexpected challenges occur, as they inevitably will.

Authentic freedom places demands on us. In discovering and comprehending our fundamental relations to one another and zestfully performing our duties, true freedom, which all people long for, is indeed possible.
 
-Epictetus

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