12. Duties to Family

The family should provide that critical support to each other, ensuring that they collectively can survive and that they and their offspring can achieve their Individual Purposes by reproducing successfully. So, what are our obligations to our families? If we consider that our purpose is to ensure our genes’ survival and that our family members carry our genes, then it logically follows that we must protect our families from harm. This is the first duty, ‘protect your family’. This duty, like the Individual Purpose, sounds deceptively simple yet is complicated in practice. It is important to note that duties are minimum standards of behaviour. They are not catch all’s but are intended to set a limit by which, if an individual refrains from acting, they jeopardise their Individual Purpose’s achievement.

Physical protection is, of course, mandatory, but protection does not stop there. Protecting is an active duty, not a passive one. It is not sufficient to await danger and respond when it appears. You are required to anticipate threats to your family’s long-term survival and act to prevent them from becoming a reality. This duty includes ensuring their physical safety by providing sufficient food, shelter, and physical security. However, it is not limited to merely physical enemies and dangers but extends to anything that can bring them harm if done or not done. Some examples could include financial risks such as gambling on risky investments or not having life insurance to provide for them if you were to die. Allowing yourself to abuse drugs or alcohol or spend money on frivolous things or cheat on your partner. It includes seemingly unrelated decisions such as investing in an education or settling for a dead-end job. If you take a less comfortable job which pays well or choose a more comfortable job which does not. If you choose to work out and eat well or if you don’t. If you expend your efforts to improve the world around you or you don’t, and even how you treat others. All these actions and much more influence the world around you and impacts upon your family’s long-term welfare and survival. Our duty is to seek the best decisions and actions to achieve our Individual Purpose and protect our families.

To provide greater clarity, we can boil the duty to protect our family down into the following elements.

To Protect Them Physically

This element places an explicit obligation on yourself and all other family members to actively take all reasonable steps to prevent physical attacks on your family members. This duty is an active obligation, meaning that it is not enough to simply respond after the fact. If that were the case, there would be a duty to avenge, not protect. Instead, the active duty to protect means you are enjoined to use your wisdom and foresight to ensure their safety. This duty is broad in scope as the protection from physical attack can be approached in many different ways depending on the situation you find yourself in.

As a minimum, it means to take personal responsibility for your family’s safety by maintaining enough physical strength and resources to defend yourself and your family from physical attack. Depending on the situation, however, this obligation could be supported by means such as supporting the local police in maintaining civil order. Serving in the Defence Forces of your nation to deter foreign aggression, building relationships for mutual defence within your communities. Campaigning for legal or constitutional reforms to increase public security, installing physical alarms and barriers to impede attacks and hiring private security. In more extreme situations, it could involve pre-emptive strikes on those who threaten your family or virtually any multitude of other actions which have as their ultimate aim the protection of your family from physical attack.

Provide Necessities of Life

This element of the duty to protect your family from harm is, again, as with all duties, an active duty. In this case, it lays out the obligation for you to take all reasonable actions to ensure that no member of your family is harmed through the lack of the necessities of life. By the necessities of life, we refer primarily to food, water, and shelter, though they can be extended to any other actual necessity warranted by the situation. This duty is not to be mistaken as an exhortation to some kind of familial socialism. Instead, it is a limited obligation to take on the responsibility to feed and shelter your kin if they are unable to do so themselves. This does not mean that you must ensure that they have the same standard of life as you do, only that you cannot sit by while they starve, freeze, or otherwise suffer harm which you could prevent.

Provide Emotional Support

The third element of the duty to protect is emotional, not physical. This duty is easily overlooked yet is often vital for protecting our families from harm. This duty boils down to simply being there for your family members. Making yourself available to talk, listen, and care. Checking in on them (regardless of if they are a chore) and making sure they know that someone is there for them. Loneliness is a killer, and while it is less visible than violence or want, it can be a threat to our families just as easily.

Our duty here is to be there for our family members. To make the effort to reach out to them and support them to be their unconditional supports and honest friends. Family can often be challenging, and you do not get to choose who is in it. Members of your family are certainly going to make choices that you disagree with, act immorally, or even wrong you. However, this does not excuse your duty towards them.

While you must protect yourself and those you have a duty to within these limits, you must still attempt to be there for those in your family. If possible, try and guide them to better choices, but if not, at least ensure that they know that you are still there for them.

We must provide the first and most constant support to our families because they and we should be each other’s most reliable supports in the world. Of course, the family, while vital, only tells part of the story of the achievement of our Individual Purposes. There are other people in the world other than our kin, and our families-in-law have to come from somewhere. This other is the community.

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