Obligation: Human vs. Citizen

March 11, 2008 / Daily Life, Opinion / 28 Comments

The other I was walking down my street with my boyfriend. It was snowing. The whole street was peacefully silent – almost as if the snowflakes were absorbing the noise. But then a man started shouting desperately “PAY THE RENT! PAY THE RENT!”

I ignored it at first. Then my boyfriend and I saw two men, one of which continued to shout while walking towards a guy that was seemingly oblivious and silently escaping into the shadows of the alley. But he continued shouting…


My boyfriend was suggesting that we call the cops because he was worried for the man walking into the alley. I disagreed for many reasons:

  • It’s a domestic affair – Someone not paying rent is a breach of contract between landlord and tenant. As a neighbor, there is nothing I can do because I have no jurisdiction over that contract. And as for cops, there is nothing they can do other than arrest the tenant for breaking a contract or arrest the landlord for disturbing the peace. It’s a lose-lose situation. And as a rational human being, I don’t waste time and effort on lose-lose situations.
  • There’s insufficient information – From that confrontation alone, I can’t figure out the tenant’s reasons for not paying up. If he was unemployed he could’ve negotiated with the landlord instead of walking away. If he was a gambler or just someone who’s bad with money… well then he asked for it. In a situation where I cannot even determine the perpetrator is not worth calling 911. Besides, there was no imminent threat. It’s not like the landlord chased him down with a knife. Checkout this link if you need help for motorcycle accident lawyer.

Thinking back, I think my boyfriend‘s instinct is one of a good citizen. Mine was one of human nature.

As the anime, Kino’s Journey キノの旅 Kino no Tabi subtly explains in episode 2, as human beings, we have no obligation to help one party or another. Our only obligation is to survive. The reason why we help others is often because we would like to be helped by others if we were to encounter a similar situation. In other words, it is saying that the underlying foundation for human compassion is selfishness. (I think this is true but only to a certain degree.)

Kino’s Journey Screenshots

Psychoanalytical animes aside, I believe as a citizen, we all have the obligation to ensure laws are abided by. But in this case, where there isn’t sufficient information for me ascertain who the perpetrator is, being indifferent seems to be the best choice for everyone. Afterall, everyone has the right to be angry.

If you were in my situation, what would you have done?

Nanyate?! 10 Day Hiatus!
Dear Visitors and Subscribers:

This is going to be my last entry for the next 10 days. I have many essays due from now till March 24th so, I will be refraining from blogging until then. (See schedule here.) My apologies – especially to the 10 new subscribers. I have many interesting entries planned and a new layout in the works. The layout will be… kinda special and be released in early/mid April. Well, that’s it for spoilers. 😉

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