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A privileged lot.

Canada seems to be getting mean-spirited. Has the "me" generation come of age? Economist and management consultant Peter Drucker warned, a decade ago, that single issue lobby groups would transform our political systems. Today, every special interest group is demanding its "rights" and campaigning to extract advantages over others.

Wouldn't it be a breath of fresh air if Canada also had a Charter of Obligations which identified what Canadians were obliged to do to earn and maintain citizenship? Surely it's what Canadians do that makes them special, not what our rights and privileges are. For example, to be a Canadian, should I be obliged to spend time helping others, perform a certain amount of community work, defend others less fortunate, pay my fair share of taxes, refrain from polluting the environment and so forth?

Obligations would make a far better social contract than a reckoning of self-interest rights.

"Rights" can be very subjective and don't necessarily give me any direction about what I'm supposed to do to be a citizen. By itself, a Charter of Rights creates a one-sided contract and entrenches self-centeredness -- it says what others are to do for me, but not what I should do for others.

The recent Charlottetown constitutional talks showed how rights divide more than they coalesce. And our legal system reinforces "getting" our fair share, but does little to encourage "giving" our fair share.

You can't change society by yourself, but you can implement your own business Charter of Obligations. Don't let membership in your business become someone's right. It's a privilege to be earned. In any organization, whether a country or a company, when membership does not require effort or a cost, the value of that membership is lowered. Earning the privilege of membership raises its value. So clearly identify what all your employees are obliged to do to be part of your team.

(Robert Kent, Ph.D. CMC is an independent management consultant based in Winnipeg.)
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Title Annotation:implementing a sense of duty with each member of a business organization
Author:Kent, Robert H.
Publication:Manitoba Business
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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