Social Responsibility

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Your family[edit]

Understand your connections to other people. In a relationship, it does not matter what the other person does. This man is your father. Your part of the relationship demands that you respect and support him and even tolerate his erratic behavior. He may be a bad father, but remember you are entitled only to a father, not to a good father.

Again if you have a brother who is unfair, do not concern yourself with his behavior, but keep your behavior in tune with nature.

No one can hurt you unless you let them. You are hurt the moment you believe you are.

In all social dealings – as a father, mother, brother, friend, citizen, etc. – remember what your role is. It does not matter what the other person does.
I shouldn’t be unfeeling like a statue, but should preserve my natural and acquired relationships, as one who honours the gods, as a son, as a brother, as a father, as a citizen.

As a citizen[edit]

Now, what does the title ‘citizen’ mean? In this role, a person never acts in his own interest or thinks of himself alone, but, like a hand or foot that had sense and realized its place in the natural order, all its actions and desires aim at nothing except contributing to the common good.

Attitude towards others[edit]

It is my privilege to love even those who stumble. This love follows as soon as I reflect that they are like me, and they do wrong through ignorance; and above all they do me no harm, for they have not made my ruling faculty worse than it was before.

‘This man slandered me!’

Many thanks to him for not striking.

‘But he did strike too.’

Many thanks to him for not wounding.

‘But he did wound.’

Many thanks to him for not killing. For when, or in whose school, did he learn ‘that man is a gentle and sociable creature and that wrongdoing in itself does great harm to the wrongdoer’? If, then, he has not learnt this or been convinced of it, why should he not follow what appears to be his interest?
‘Well, does that mean that if someone wrongs me I shouldn’t hurt them in return?’ First of all, look at what wrongdoing is and remember what you have heard about it from philosophers. Because if ‘good’ as well as ‘bad’ really relate to our choices, then consider whether your position does not amount to saying something like, ‘Well, since that guy hurt himself with the injustice he did me, shouldn’t I wrong him in order to hurt myself in retaliation?’

‘So this thief here and this adulterer shouldn’t be put to death?’ Not at all, but what you should be asking instead is this: ‘This man who has fallen into error and is mistaken about the most important matters, and thus has gone blind, not with regard to the eyesight that distinguishes white from black, but with regard to the judgement that distinguishes good from bad—should someone like this be put to death?’

If you put the question in that way, you’ll recognize the inhumanity of the thought that you’re expressing, and see that it is equivalent to saying, ‘Should this blind man, then, or that deaf one, be put to death?’ For if the greatest harm that a person can suffer is the loss of the most valuable goods, and the most valuable thing that anyone can possess is correct choice, then if someone is deprived of that, what reason is left for you to be angry with him?

Why, man, if in an unnatural fashion you really must harbour feelings with regard to another person’s misfortunes, you ought to pity him rather than hate him. Put aside this inclination to take offence and give vent to hatred; who are you, man, to make use of these expressions that are favoured by the mob—‘Away with these accursed wretches!’ Very well, but how is it that you’ve suddenly become converted to wisdom, and are now in a position to be severe towards other people?

Why, then, are we angry? Because we attach value to the things that these people steal from us. Well, stop attaching such value to your clothes, and you won’t be angry with the man who steals them.


There are, on the other hand, two kinds of injustice — the one, on the part of those who inflict wrong, the other on the part of those who, when they can, do not shield from wrong those upon whom it is being inflicted. For he who, under the influence of anger or some other passion, wrongfully assaults another seems, as it were, to be laying violent hands upon a comrade; but he who does not prevent or oppose wrong, if he can, is just as guilty of wrong as if he deserted his parents or his friends or his country. […]

For they secure one sort of justice, to be sure, in that they do no positive wrong to anyone, but they fall into the opposite injustice; for hampered by their pursuit of learning they leave to their fate those whom they ought to defend. […]

There are some also who, either from zeal in attending to their own business or through some sort of aversion to their fellow-men, claim that they are occupied solely with their own affairs, without seeming to themselves to be doing anyone any injury. But while they steer clear of the one kind of injustice, they fall into the other: they are traitors to social life, for they contribute to it none of their interest, none of their effort, none of their means. Now since we have set forth the two kinds of injustice and assigned the motives that lead to each, and since we have previously established the principles by which justice is constituted, we shall be in a position easily to decide what our duty on each occasion is.


  1. Chuck Chakrapani, The Good Life Handbook, 2016.
  2. Robin Hard, Discourses, Fragments, Handbook, 2014.
  3. Robert Dobbin, Discourses and Selected Writings, 2008.
  4. Robert Dobbin, Discourses and Selected Writings, 2008.
  5. Robin Hard, Discourses, Fragments, Handbook, 2014.
  6. Walter Miller, Delphi Complete Works of Cicero, 2014.