7.1.4 Your study so far and your experience

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Unit 7 Contents

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The title of this unit says it is about rights and duties.  We haven’t yet looked at how these two concepts fit together, although there was an outline of this in Unit 2.

Let’s take this as a cue for reviewing the various ways in which the topic has come up in the previous units of this module that you’ve studied.

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EXERCISE

Think, or look, back over earlier units of this module.

Make notes on where duties/responsibilities and rights have come up previously.

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RESPONSE TO EXERCISE: Click here

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What about your own experience?

In this unit I’ve deliberately begun with explanation of what the language of duties and rights means, and of some of the main distinctions in how it is used, before getting to the first stage in the pastoral spiral.  I hope this might enable you to use that language more readily in now bringing to mind your own experience.

Perhaps also the exercise above, reviewing study of the module, has prompted recollections of your own experience, especially in relation to responsibilities and rights in your working life, business activity and family.

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EXERCISE

Here are a few questions about your experience in relation to dignity, duties and rights.  Make notes in response to these or on similar issues that they provoke you to reflect on.

  • Would you say employers have generally respected your dignity and/or that of family members and friends – and thereby fulfilled their duties to you and them?  In relation to this, I would say that, in one job I had, the workload was so great over a period of some years, relative to the contract, that my rights were violated.  (I don’t say this lightly.)  This is not an uncommon experience in Britain and some other countries – much has been written about the ‘long-hours culture’ that has developed over the past few decades.1
  • Do you know of work in which pay is, illegally, below the minimum wage?  If so, would you say that the workers’ human right to a just wage, as well as their legal right to the statutory minimum wage, is being violated?
  • Defining ‘we’ in any way(s) you like, to what extent do you think we fulfil the responsibility for exercising dominion in a Christ-like way in God’s good creation?  Do we follow adequately the example of the patron saint of ecology, St Francis Assisi (see 3.3.2)?
  • Looking briefly at the Vatican’s Charter of Rights of the Family, as referred to in the response to the last exercise, to what extent would you say these rights have been respected in the experience of your own family?
  • More generally, to what extent have the various ‘freedom rights’ and ‘benefit rights’ listed on the last screen been upheld for you and people you know?  To the extent that they have not, why is this?

As this exercise is primarily about your experience, there is no Response.

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End of 7.1.4

Go to 7.1.5 How the language works

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  1. See Madeleine Bunting, Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives (Harper Perennial, 2004); this book focuses on Britain.  A more recent, powerful account of similar developments in the USA is Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, ‘All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup’, Mother Jones, Jul/Aug 2011, accessible (30 Apr. 2014) at: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/06/speed-up-american-workers-long-hours.  Among effects of the financial and economic crises since 2008 are unemployment for a large number and reduced working hours for others.  Nevertheless, as the article by Bauerlein and Jeffery shows, the long-hours culture continues for very many workers. 

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