Duty comes in many forms; at times duty to country may conflict with duty to family. Yet, with a lucid mind the guises can be torn away and in the end, duty becomes but one, and that duty is to value justice above everything-to do what is right not because someone ordains it, but because the heart which is the seat of truth decrees it so.
We are humanity, Kant says. Humanity needs us because we are it. Kant believes in duty and considers remaining alive a primary human duty. For him one is not permitted to 'renounce his personality, ' and while he states living as a duty, it also conveys a kind of freedom: we are not burdened with the obligation of judging whether our personality is worth maintaining, whether our life is worth living. Because living it is a duty, we are performing a good moral act just by persevering.
In times of widespread chaos and confusion, it has been the duty of more advanced human beings-artists, scientists, clowns and philosophers-to create order. In times such as ours, however, when there is too much order, too much management, too much programming and control, it becomes the duty of superior men and women to fling their favorite monkey wrenches into the machinery. To relive the repression of the human spirit, they must sow doubt and disruption.
Finally, let me share a feeling of mine, I hope it will not be misinterpreted as pride. I am seventy four now. But still, if they give me a duty in the wooden hut where I used to stay when I was a mentor long years ago, I will gladly run there and try to fulfill that duty. Perhaps, some of our friends can see that task as a simple and trivial one. But I have not underestimated this duty and would never do so. Even today, some people may consider our having lessons with the small circle of young scholars here as a simple and trivial job. However, in my opinion, this is the most important occupation that can take human to the highest levels.
Western society has accepted as unquestionable a technological imperative that is quite as arbitrary as the most primitive taboo: not merely the duty to foster invention and constantly to create technological novelties, but equally the duty to surrender to these novelties unconditionally, just because they are offered, without respect to their human consequences.
The duty of the moment is what you should be doing at any given time, in whatever place God has put you. You may not have Christ in a homeless person at your door, but you may have a little child. If you have a child, your duty of the moment may be to change a dirty diaper. So you do it. But you don't just change that diaper, you change it to the best of your ability, with great love for both God and that child... There are all kinds of good Catholic things you can do, but whatever they are, you have to realize that there is always the duty of the moment to be done. And it must be done, because the duty of the moment is the duty of God.
You know, that man has a spirit, that each man and woman is unique, that we have duty to promote our unalienable rights and to protect them, that we have a duty to our families and ourselves, to take care of ourselves, to contribute to charity, that we have a duty to support a just and righteous law that is stable and predictable.
I told you that 'juvenile delinquent' is a contradiction in terms. 'Delinquent' means 'failing in duty.' But duty is an adult virtue-indeed a juvenile becomes an adult when, and only when, he acquires a knowledge of duty and embraces it as dearer than the self-love he was born with. There never was, there cannot be a 'juvenile delinquent.' But for every juvenile criminal there are always one or more adult delinquents-people of mature years who either do not know their duty, or who, knowing it, fail.
The instinct to survive is human nature itself, and every aspect of our personalities derives from it. Anything that conflicts with the survival instinct acts sooner or later to eliminate the individual and thereby fails to show up in future generations... A scientifically verifiable theory of morals must be rooted in the individual's instinct to survive-and nowhere else!-and must correctly describe the hierarchy of survival, note the motivations at each level, and resolve all conflicts. We have such a theory now; we can solve any moral problem, on any level. Self-interest, love of family, duty to country, responsibility toward the human race... The basis of all morality is duty, a concept with the same relation to group that self-interest has to individual.