There are many authors that tend to make discourse surrounding avoiding moral obligations and how they are detrimental to personal growth because they confine us to invisible walls of an invisible prison whereby ‘we act like slaves to the system’ or whatever discrimination they pronounce.
For the most part, moral obligation is a human virtue in civilisation with the aim of being civilised is to live by virtue and good moral conduct. When the aforementioned authors write about being confined to social norms or to being affected by multimedia messages, Disney theories or social conditioning it is usually out of the good intentions to break free the demographic who find it as a problem. They know that their readers will take their advice that being socially conditioned is a bad thing to some degree of action.
Is social conditioning really as bad as these authors make it out to be? In the law of fair exchange and the law of karma the famous quote “Do unto others as they do unto you” or the Chinese Philosophy of “Do not impose on others what you would not impose on yourself” it is common knowledge that what you treat others like is a reflection of how you would like to be treated. Social conditioning in this regard is a good thing. The Chinese Confucian Philosophical concept of ‘Li’ existed to maintain social rights, a moral and common understanding of how everyone behaved in society. Social conditioning according to the authors I speak of is equivalent to a concept of being a social robot. The authors have labelled it as social conditioning because their intention is to open your perspective of blind spots, things you may have missed in how you come to understand the world. They don’t want you to go out in the world and be a total jackass in society.
Civilised society originated from moral conduct. Most people condemn murder because it is a heinous act. Harming the vulnerable is also not merited and it is commonplace that stealing is unwanted. Civilisation thrives when goals to individuals are common to the human condition and the way we all agree on things is sometimes labelled as ‘moral obligation’. This is a social conditioning label in the context of being a pushover. Being morally obligated to put others first is in the right context a good thing, chivalry is a good thing, charity is a good thing. The premise that ‘moral obligation’ is a bad thing is based on the idea that a person does not value themselves if they are socially conditioned to robotically put others first before their own needs are met.
Self-Love is the real moral obligation. Self-Love is the moral obligation we are born with. So what is Self-Love? Rethink the next few days. Are you so busy you don’t have time to pamper yourself? Take a nap? Paint? Read? If so, then you are probably busier than you think. Are you too busy for yourself? I ask this because a lot of the time when I feel overwhelmed and center myself, I usually find I’m either highly distracted, unmindful, not aligned with my goals and usually too busy to provide my own nurturing. You will find that with a lot of busy people they have obligations out of their own agenda such as being surrounded by people all the time or always doing something that on the surface seems of merit but is normally some for of validation seeking or a plea for approval. These are not moral obligations at all.
I have found that some of these Pastor’s that preach sermons to churchgoers tend to have some great advice when it comes to living life meaningfully. One of them I heard recently and has been on my mind ever since is “Hurting people hurts others”. In the law of fair exchange and law of karma this advice makes immediate sense. When a member of the community falls sick then immediate relatives, friends and influences all take it on themselves, the moral obligation to see that they get better, recuperate and rejuvenate to full good health, a full recovery. It goes without saying that people are affected by each other’s well being. I, therefore, state that it is a moral obligation to Self-Love yourself.
Take care of yourself, stay for an extra five minutes in the shower, eat one less spoonful, go for a walk, clear your head. Life is about reducing stress not adding to it. If you pursue actions with poor consequences then it is considered selfish because not only does it affect your own life, but it affects those around you too. You might not take this advice to heart but through life experience, you will see this happening in the world around you.
The faithful and ever-present moral obligation then is to love yourself. Self-Love is the moral obligation. People rely on you. You cannot love someone else unless you first love yourself. Charity starts at home. Make yourself strong. Make yourself useful and a force in your own life that you can always trust. This is the moral obligation.
According to Nathaniel Branden Self Esteem comprises of:
confidence in our ability to think, confidence in our ability to cope with the basic challenges of life; and
confidence in our right to be successful and happy, the feeling of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our needs and wants, achieve our values, and enjoy the fruits of our efforts.
This nurturing of self-esteem, self-love, self-acceptance is important in our daily practice of self-love. It is by far the most important moral obligation we undertake because it is our responsibility to lead a life that is worthy of being called a life. “To trust one’s mind and to know that one is worthy of happiness is the essence of self-esteem.” Nurturing one’s self-love then is the same as nurturing self-esteem.
“When people lack a healthy self-esteem, they often identify self-esteem with being ‘loved’. If they did not feel loved by their families, sometimes they comfort themselves with the thought that God loves them, and they try to tie their self-esteem to this idea. With the best will in the world, how can we understand this strategy except as a manifestation of passivity?” – The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. In answering this question the author says he ‘does not think we should stay as dependent children’, and advocates being ‘self-supporting psychologically’. In this regard, self-esteem is psychological and accounts for all self-acceptance, self-love and as the first chapter is titled “The Immune System of Consciousness”. Nurturing yourself, your self-esteem, abiding by the moral obligation of self-love and doing everything within your control to love yourself and have self-esteem is what is required to live a good life.