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March 13, 2017 / Congau

Breach of Trust

You are not allowed to break the laws of the state, but you may betray a friend. The state doesn’t care, and it shouldn’t, but right and wrong doesn’t begin and end with the state – far from it.

Crime is a betrayal in a certain sense. Society protects you and in return it expects you to obey its laws. But your mutual relationship isn’t strong. After all, who is the state for you? An anonymous mass; whatever you do you will not hurt its feelings. Who are you for the state? An insignificant particle.

And moreover, how did you get into a relationship with this Leviathan? You were probably born in its land. You had no choice and you never promised anything.

Concerning people around you it is different. They are human beings. You have looked into their eyes and you know that they are conscious individuals like yourself. Trust me, you said, I will not hurt you. And they believed you.

No crime is worse that the breach of trust. You may rob a bank or snatch a handbag from a person in the street; that is bad. But when the victim of your action is not just anyone but someone that is tied to you by the bonds of personal promise and trust, then your act is more than a crime.

All unethical behavior may in a sense be considered a betrayal of duty, but a duty is not absolute until it has been connected to a real fellow human being. The anonymous state or the abstract mankind can only give general directions about which actions we are obliged to perform. Often we can fulfill our duty by complete passivity, and that is not much of a feat. But when you have made a promise to someone, the duty is real and defined. If you break that promise, it is not a crime for the state is not involved, but it may be worse.

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