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    A further comment from personal experience...

    Posted by BrianC on June 1, 2003, 4:25 am

    Further to my previous post. My own situation of distress arose out of a situation that focussed on a problem in this area of moral law. Originally what happened in my situation is that I went to the assistance of a person in distress. In this case it was a cousin of mine who had been defamed in a very serious way in a public newspaper. (In his eventual court case he was awarded the highest damages for defamation in this State's legal history. The matter was not trivial.)

    As things turned out my going to his assistance caused me to end up in a situation where I also ended up in distress. This largely occurred because I did not have sufficient resources on my own to be able to solve my cousin's problems. I called on the assistance of a number of other people. One of these other people chose, instead of rendering assistance to in fact further denigrate the person originally in distress and also to denigrate me. This enventually led to a significant number of other people who had already rendered assistance withdrawing their assistance and the whole situation degenerated catastrophically for a large number of people including my cousin and myself. It is not an exaggeration to say that at a number of points in the verbal confrontations that arose in this sorry and distressing mess this precise phrase "am I my brother's keeper" was debated. I could in fact show letters where there was debate on this exact biblical phrase and what our various moral responses should have been, or were, in this scenario.

    The person who in fact I allege acted wrongly did, on a number of occasions, endeavour to argue that we are not our brother's keeper and there is no moral obligation to go to another person in distress. He did seem to be able to understand that it applied in the case of a traffic accident but he could not seem to translate the general moral principle over to the situation where someone was caught up in a different kind of "accident" or "event of wrong-doing" (in this case the original defamatory act). I do not know if it was the lack of physical injury or what that made it impossible to explain that this situation was morally no different to had my cousin been injured in a traffic accident and required serious medical assistance.

    I have since come across many situations where people do not seem to be able to reason through moral principles -- or translate a general moral principle to specific scenarios. They can accept that the Law of the Land says you have to stop and render assistance after a traffic accident but as far as they are concerned that only applies to traffic accidents. Other sorts of accidents do not carry any similar moral obligation.


  • Original Post. - BrianC June 1, 2003, 3:30 am

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