Relations define duties. You’ve got a father? Then you have duties – helping him, taking care of him when he’s in need, listening to his advice even when it’s reproachful.
You object that you’ve got a bad father. Are you necessarily related to a good father? No, only to a father.
Is your brother unfair to you? Don’t dwell on his unfairness, but remember that he’s your brother. Instead of analyzing what he does, analyze how you can keep your attitude calm. No one can harm you unless you let him, and then you’re harmed because you think you are.
Use this method to discover your duties to a neighbor, to the community, to your boss, and so forth. They’re all implicit in the relations.
People aren’t Kleenex, and you can’t wish away your responsibilities just because the people involved don’t please you all the time.
Our duties are in general measured by our social relationships. He is a father. One is called upon to take care of him, to give way to him in all things, to submit when he reviles or strikes you. “But he is a bad father.” Did nature, then, bring you into relationship with a good father? No, but simply with a father. “My brother does me wrong.” Very well, then, maintain the relation that you have toward him; and do not consider what he is doing, but what you will have to do, if your moral purpose is to be in harmony with nature. For no one will harm you without your consent; you will have been harmed only when you think you are harmed. In this way, therefore, you will discover what duty to expect of your neighbour, your citizen, your commanding officer, if you acquire the habit of looking at your social relations with them.
Appropriate acts are in general measured by the relations they are concerned with. ‘He is your father.’ This means you are called on to take care of him, give way to him in all things, bear with him if he reviles or strikes you.
‘But he is a bad father.’
Well, have you any natural claim to a good father? No, only to a father.
‘My brother wrongs me.’
Be careful then to maintain the relation you hold to him, and do not consider what he does, but what you must do if your purpose is to keep in accord with nature. For no one shall harm you, without your consent; you will only be harmed, when you think you are harmed. You will only discover what is proper to expect from neighbour, citizen, or praetor, if you get into the habit of looking at the relations implied by each.
Duties are universally measured by relations. Is a man a father? The precept is to take care of him, to yield to him in all things, to submit when he is reproachful, when he inflicts blows. But suppose that he is a bad father. Were you then by nature made akin to a good father? No; but to a father. Does a brother wrong you? Maintain then your own position toward him, and do not examine what he is doing, but what you must do that your will shall be conformable to nature. For another will not damage you, unless you choose: but you will be damaged then when you shall think that you are damaged. In this way, then, you will discover your duty from the relation of a neighbor, from that of a citizen, from that of a general, if you are accustomed to contemplate the relations.
Our duties are universally fixed by the relations in which we find ourselves. Is such a man your father? Then your duty is to bear dictation from him, to take care of him, to yield to him in all things, to be patient with him when be chides you, when he beats you. But if he be a bad father? Is there then a natural law that you should be related by kin to a good father? No, but simply to a father. And does your brother do you wrong? Then guard your own proper position towards him, and do not consider what he is doing, but rather what you may do in order that your will may be in accordance with Nature. For no other can ever harm you if you do not choose it yourself, but you are harmed then, when you imagine yourself to be so. Thus then you may discover your duties by considering those of a neighbor, of a citizen, of a general, —if you will accustom yourself to observe the relationships.
Duties are universally measured by relations. Is a certain man your father? In this are implied, taking care of him; submitting to him in all things; patiently receiving his reproaches, his- correction. But he is a bad father. Is your natural tie, then, to a good father? No, but to a father. Is a brother unjust? Well, preserve your own just relation towards him. Consider not what he does, but what you are to do, to keep your own will in a state conformable to nature. For another cannot hurt you, unless you please. You will then be hurt when you consent to be hurt. In this manner, therefore, if you accustom yourself to contemplate the relations of neighbor, citizen, commander, you can deduce from each the corresponding duties.
Duties are universally measured by relations. Is anyone a father? If so, it is implied that the children should take care of him, submit to him in everything, patiently listen to his reproaches, his correction. But he is a bad father. Is you naturally entitled, then, to a good father? No, only to a father. Is a brother unjust? Well, keep your own situation towards him. Consider not what he does, but what you are to do to keep your own faculty of choice in a state conformable to nature. For another will not hurt you unless you please. You will then be hurt when you think you are hurt. In this manner, therefore, you will find, from the idea of a neighbor, a citizen, a general, the corresponding duties if you accustom yourself to contemplate the several relations.
Τὰ καθήκοντα ὡς ἐπίπαν ταῖς σχέσεσι παραμετρεῖται. πατήρ ἐστιν: ὑπαγορεύεται ἐπιμελεῖσθαι, παραχωρεῖν ἁπάντων, ἀνέχεσθαι λοιδοροῦντος, παίοντος. «ἀλλὰ πατὴρ κακός ἐστι». μή τι οὖν πρὸς ἀγαθὸν πατέρα φύσει ᾠκειώθης; ἀλλὰ πρὸς πατέρα. «ὁ ἀδελφὸς ἀδικεῖ». τήρει τοιγαροῦν τὴν τάξιν τὴν σεαυτοῦ πρὸς αὐτὸν μηδὲ σκόπει, τί ἐκεῖνος ποιεῖ, ἀλλὰ τί σοὶ ποιήσαντι κατὰ φύσιν ἡ σὴ ἕξει προαίρεσις: σὲ γὰρ ἄλλος οὐ βλάψει, ἂν μὴ σὺ θέλῃς: τότε δὲ ἔσῃ βεβλαμμένος, ὅταν ὑπολάβῃς βλάπτεσθαι. οὕτως οὖν ἀπὸ τοῦ γείτονος, ἀπὸ τοῦ πολίτου, ἀπὸ τοῦ στρατηγοῦ τὸ καθῆκον εὑρήσεις, ἐὰν τὰς σχέσεις ἐθίζῃ θεωρεῖν.