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Tony Grist

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Duty [Jun. 9th, 2004|09:39 am]
Tony Grist

Two things  came together yesterday.

I was researching Albert Ball VC for the very jolly communitywings_n_wires (which honours the planes and pilots of WWI.)  Ball was a sweet and madly brave young man  who, when he wasn't downing German planes, cultivated vegetables in a little garden he'd made on base. Writing home, he would say things like , "Oh, won't it be nice when all this beastly killing is over, and we can just enjoy ourselves and not hurt anyone. I hate this game, but it is the only thing one must do just now...When I am happy I dig in the garden and sing."

Later I was watching a documentary film about the first intifada. Young Israeli servicemen were voicing exactly the same sentiments as Ball:- it's mad that we're guarding these settlers whose ideology we hate, but it's what we have to do and we wouldn't have it any other way. They were filmed singing a song about how when their tour was over they'd go and dance and smoke joints on a beach in Goa.

War is this tribal thing. People get locked into it. They hate what they're doing, acknowledge its pointlessness, but believe it's their duty to carry on. Duty becomes a value that over-rides every other moral consideration.

Perhaps genetic scientists will one day be able to switch off this "Duty" gene. Would there be worldwide moral collapse if they did ?

 

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: mtl
2004-06-09 03:13 am (UTC)

I hope so

I hope that this could go away, an no, I do not think there would be moral collapse if this duty thing went away.

Perhaps people would be calmer and think.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-06-09 04:57 am (UTC)

Re: I hope so

That's what I'd like to believe.
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[User Picture]From: mokie
2004-06-09 12:39 pm (UTC)
I'd like to believe duty could go away, but I think perhaps duty and morality are too closely entwined--both simply what we believe ought to do, coming from different sets of priorities and cultural biases.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-06-09 01:32 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid of going much further in case there are philosophers watching.

I guess it depends on the moral source you place highest. In war-time most soldiers place "king and country" first(which is what I meant by "Duty") but there are always those who give priority to "God" or "my conscience" and become conscientous objectors or deserters.

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