Essay, Research Paper
“The Obligation to Die for the State”
In his essay Michael Walzer discusses the political obligation citizens have to their state. In order to have a running community and society you have to work together and make difficult decisions. These decisions can alter you and the people around drastically in both positive and negative ways but are necessary to have a working “State.” It’s not only hard decisions but obligations you have to your state as a loyal citizen. Those obligations are there for a reason and must be followed even if they include death. As a loyal citizen you have obligations and duties. Everyone needs to make the necessary sacrifices and have the dedication to their State. “Society must be an agreement to die if necessary in order to live together in safety as long as possible?” (Walzer, 86).
As citizens we have a moral obligation to die rather than kill an innocent man. Walzer describes a court case in which Person A holds a gun up to Person B and orders him to kill Person C or he will be killed; B then proceeds to kill Person C. In the court of law Person B is responsible for the murder of Person C. No matter how fear and power influenced him, he is still guilty. With moral obligation, Person B should have died himself rather than kill an innocent person who has done no harm. The state wants citizens to feel that they will receive personal glory for dying for your state and receive the title of “Hero”. I do not think that personal glory is really worth dying for, rather the impact and betterment of your state due too a sacrifice of such a precious thing as life. ‘ A good intention is necessary, and we should love our county not so much on our own account, as out of regard to the community’ (Walzer, 79). If you have the proper motives the personal glory will be minimal compared to the effects you will have on filling your obligations to the State.
In Walzers view everyday citizens should be ready to die if the common wealth of the state is under attack. If they are not ready or willing to die for the common wealth of society then the society will not survive. It is completely necessary for people to put their lives on the line in order to have a strong and powerful state.
Walzer also believes that people have the social obligation to society to die for serious crimes such as murder through punishment. Capital punishment for instance is used on such cases and would most definitely have been used in cases such as the Wacco, Texas incident at which David Coresh killed 85 people including 23 children (a lot of whom where his). Had he not died attempting to justify his cause capitol punishment would most definitely have been used. Most of society would have deemed him such a deviant that he would need to die in an attempt to justify his actions. In fact, there is a movie addressing this sole type of punishment called Dead Man Walking in which the main character is sentenced to death by injection for the murder and rape of a young couple.
All in all Walzer, I think is correct in his ideas about having an obligation to die for one’s state. And although there are many different ways for that to happen-Military, Capitol Punishment etc.- the obligation remains for the most part the same. Such ideas date back as far as the Bible and will not change for a very long time, if at all. Courageous people die for their state; murderers die for their state and society as a whole yet the end result is the same.