Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Moral Obligation

So right now, I'm working on a group project for Humanities. I know, it's 2 in the morning and I should be sleeping, but 1) SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK, and 2) PROCRASTINATION.

Anyways, I'm on a Skype call with a group member, and he and I have basically carried the group. Sure, there was another group member that did work, but we did the bulk of the heavylifting (academic heavylifting, mind you). But there are four people in our group. So what happened to the fourth person?

Okay, so first, lemme assign names to protect people's identities and such: I'm me; the other responsible group member is Ryan; the group member that worked, but not too much will be called Aiden; and the group member that didn't work at all will be called Lewis. Although Lewis had an excuse not to work (his computer glitched or something, I don't really know the details), he still could've done his work at the library or something, and that's why I'm making this blog post.

As stated previously, it's 2 in the morning, I'm tired, my eyelids are heavy, but fingers are not moving across the keyboard normally, and I wanna go to sleep. However, the aforementioned project still is unfinished. Why you may ask? Because of Lewis? Not all because of Lewis, but he wasn't not the reason. We still have several elements of the project unfinished, and Lewis's part of the Annotated Bibliography is one of them. Sure, we could throw him under the bus, screw over his grade and talk our way out of our grade going down, but that feels... wrong. So now Ryan and I have to do his research, his research questions, his slides in the Powerpoint, everything that he would've normally done. And then we have to do our own part of the project (which we finished, actually, before working on Lewis's stuff).

So. Should we have to do this?

We are all friends in the group, and we know each other pretty well. Ryan and I discussed it at length (at the detriment of our productivity, but at this rate, nothing's getting done, let's be honest), and we decided to do Lewis's work. It's our moral obligation, we said to justify this excess workload. We'd feel like bad people otherwise. But is extra sleep worth that feeling of guilt? As previously stated, we could work our way out of any grade trouble on our end, but Lewis's grade would be screwed. Wouldn't affect us. Would actually be good for us if you think about it in terms of rank-competition. We'd be getting extra sleep.

We'd be guilty of being bad friends. And I think that's what at the root of this "dilemma" (it wasn't really a dilemma; I exaggerated previously; we decided at once to do Lewis's work): the moral obligation for us to cover for our friend. Sure, logically, if we were robots, we would never cover for Lewis, not in a million years. But we're not. We're humans. With emotions, with empathy, with compassion for one another. There's a reason society hasn't completely crumbled into chaos and anarchy yet. We still have humanity within us. We still cover for one another, and make sure the job gets done no matter how much (or how little) sleep we get.

And once we lose that humanity within us, once we succumb to the robots' level, once we stop covering for one another, this all goes down the drain. Once we put our priorities, our pleasure, above someone else's pain that we could solve, if we just sacrificed a little, that's when society starts to fall into disarray. We must always cover for one another, help each other out, and whether that means less sleep or less money, it's enough for a little to go around to everybody. And that's what really matters. That everybody gets something.

Maybe you think that Lewis will do this again. Next group project, he does nothing. But that won't happen. You know why I know that? Because I trust Lewis. I know that this was a series of unfortunate events, not a series of planned frivolity (not sure if I used that word correctly). People by nature want to better themselves. Lewis, by nature, wanted to work on the project, he wanted to earn his grade. So we must trust each other, not just in group projects, but in society as a whole. Humans aren't inherently lazy, idle, complacent. We're workers, we're do-ers, we want to feel validated, and we earn our grade (or money) as best we can. If something comes up, something comes up, and others should be there to cover for you. But nothing comes up that often to compromise this system.

So think about that the next time you watch the news. Think about that the next time you go to a voting booth. Think about that the next time you're up at 2 am working on a group project. You have a moral obligation to cover for people. Maybe they're not in the best of spots, maybe they're just getting by.

So cover for them.

--PRANAV