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Reflection 22 (p8 - cont)
Why Do Right? A Secularist's Answer

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Again, our obligation to live good lives is derived from the fact that, as we are here and are recipients of certain advantages from society, we therefore deem it a duty to repay, by life service, the benefits thus received. To avoid this obligation, either by self-destruction or by any other means, except we are driven to such a course by what have been termed "irresistible forces," would be, in our opinion, cowardly and unjustifiable. As to the word "ought," the only explanation orthodox Christianity gives to this term is a thoroughly selfish one. It says you "ought" to do so and so for "Christ's sake," that through him you may avoid eternal perdition. On the other hand, Secularism finds the meaning of "ought" in the very nature of things, as involving duty, and implying that something is due to others. As the Rev. Minot J. Savage, in his 'Morals of Evolution,' aptly pats it: "Man ought -- what? -- ought to fulfil the highest possibility of his being; ought to be a man; ought to be all and the highest that being a man implies. Why? That is his nature. He ought to fulfil the highest possibilities of his being; ought not simply to be an animal. Why? Because there is something in him more than an animal. He ought not simply to be a brain, a thinking machine, although he ought to be that. Why? Because that does not exhaust the possibilities of his nature: he is capable of being something more, something higher than a brain. We say he ought to be a moral being. Why? Because it is living out his nature to be a moral being. He ought to live as high, grand, and complete a life as it is possible for him to live, and he ought to stand in such relation to his follow men that he shall aid them in doing the same. Why? Just the same as in all these other cases: because this, and this only, is developing the full and complete stature of a man, and he is not a man in the highest, truest, deepest sense of the word until he is that and does that; he is only a fragment of a man so long as he is less and lower."

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