“The duality of responsibility we have” is a phrase that circled in my thoughts for many years. At that time in my life I had no idea it was even a subject of thought for old dead white guys (the usual philosophers). As I moved through life I found out that most of them touched on this subject in many ways. A few popular themes are conscience and sub-conscience, life and death. Machiavelli dealt with business life and home life, although most only focus on his point of “the ends justify the means, business at all cost” philosophy. The manner in which I think about duality is the responsibility to the self and the responsibility to society.
Within that framework I look at myself and the world, just so I can keep things in order to find a way through chaos. This is my method. You most likely have a different one. It would be a boring world if we did all think alike. Although I do wish that people did not suffer because of our differences of ideology. Within this method there are the struggles where self- preservation is in opposition to society.
Ghandi met that duality with starvation. People who put their lives on the line to ensure the safety of others are acts that take place every day around the world, these are the acts of martyrs, intended or not. The thought process of doing something to improve society at the cost of the self is the conflict of dual responsibility, eg., Mohamed Bouazizi.
Take any warlord and you will see self-preservation at the cost of society. Although they speak to the protection of society because they know that is the treasure of power. We can look at the situations in Syria and see both sides speaking to the needs of society. We can look at the United Nations Security Council and see each side making arguments for society. These are the leaders speaking. The people on the street also speak of society yet they also speak about their own lives.
If the question is asked, “why protest” the answer is usually, “We are tired of the corruption, insecurity, no jobs, no choice, no voice and what future is that? The desires of the self, met with the desires of the society.
We can see self-preservation in the acts of countries as well. The RUSA is an easy target for such acts, just about every war they have started since 1962 has been about self-preservation. Israel is constantly barking about self-preservation.
This method of understanding the world is helpful to see what the goals are of those that you face. Is the person or people out to ensure their own purpose or are they seeking to ensure the purpose of everyone. Even within that we have those that act with serious intent to secure the safety of society, but do so in a harmful manner, for example Hitler or a serial killer that preys on people they deem harmful.
At some point there will be a choice between yourself and society. People who choose to take public transit for example to help lower pollution are acting in benefit of society, buying fair trade products, recycling, donating to charities and other acts.
At the end of it all, this helps me sort through the garbage. I can listen to the words of others as they speak to helping society and then balancing that with how those words reflect the personal benefits. Just like the sales pitch we got from mobile phone companies, “buy these because in case of an emergency you can reach someone.” All of a sudden that emergency has now become, “Oh my god, what restaurant/bar are you at?” We sold out to the advertising campaign founded on safety but in reality it was to make a dollar. That example has more to it than the duality of responsibility though, a good idea gone to hell because of sell outs and suckers.
Going through the debate on duality of responsibility helps me see what my motivations are. I can ask why I have a desire to act in one way. I can understand if it is self-preservation or not. Perhaps I am not sure, which tells me I need to get clear, otherwise a huge mess is about to unfold. When that happens the task of peace just explodes.