Part F. Must and Have to
- We express internal rules (0r personal obligations) using must. When an obligation is based on a rule (written or unwritten) or law, we use have to. The use of must or have to also give an idea of moral obligation.
- Common examples of external obligation
I must be polite to other people.
I must be successful.
- Examples of moral obligation
You must visit your grandmother.
You must help poor people.
You have to be a good wife/husband.
You have to get a job.
Exercise 1: Read the following newspaper article, regarding the May 12, 2008, earthquake in Sichuan, China. Be prepared to discuss whether you believe that people have moral obligations to look after one another, and to explain your point of view.
A Chinese high school teacher has been fired and denounced by local media and Internet users for fleeing a classroom before his students during last month’s devastating earthquake.
Fan Meizhong, a Chinese-language teacher at a private high school in quake-ravaged Dujiangyan in southwest Sichuan province, has been branded “running Fan” on Internet chat-rooms and come under fire for defending his actions online in a lengthy post.
The 8.0 magnitude earthquake on May 12 killed more than 70,000 people, including thousands of children at their desks in what many parents believe were shoddily made school buildings.
“At such a life-or-death moment, I would only consider sacrificing my life for my daughter. I would not do it for anyone else, even my mother,” Fan wrote on popular online portal, Tianya.cn.
“In a flash I felt it — a big earthquake! Then I charged to the building’s stairs,” Fan said, adding that he was the first person to emerge from the school on to the soccer pitch.
None of the children in his literature class died in the quake.
China’s education ministry confirmed that Fan had been dismissed, but said it was the school’s decision and denied media reports that it had issued a special order demanding it. Fan said he had not ruled out suing the authorities over the decision.
Fan’s account has enraged China, as it struggles to rebuild damaged cities and provide housing for millions of victims displaced by the quake.
“I know many teachers died protecting children during the earthquake… In this long essay, I can’t see any ‘person’ here, I just see a big ‘me’,” a post in response to Fan’s account said.
- Did Fan do the morally right thing by saving his own life first?
- Did he have to help his students get out of the school safely?
- Must we help others in need?
- Do we have more moral obligation to think of our own children first?
- Is it fair to say what others must do?
- In life, which things do we have to do, and which things are left to our own judgment?