Quite often, when we discus the Moral Law, we talk about things like Murder and Theft. Christians often talk about Lust and even Gluttony. But, as I said, I'm trying to keep this out of a purely Religious argument, and keep it to the "universal" Moral Law. The Religious Moral Law is concerned with consequences after death. The Universal Moral Law is concerned with consequences now. In either case, a key component of the Moral Law is Responsibility.
I've written in this space before that Responsibility is the inverse of, or the balance to, Liberty. As regards the Moral Law, responsibility is both a duty and a balance. It simultaneously requires that we "man up" to our mistakes, and that we deal with the consequences thereof. It requires a "confession" of sorts, while it also requires its own form of "penance."
Taking responsibility for one's actions is, itself, a moral action. This requires the admission of mistakes and the confession of wrong-doing. In this sense, responsibility is as much a choice, as much a verb, as it is a simple explanation of events. More than simple admission or confession, it requires that one place one's self directly in the path of whatever the consequences of those wrong actions will be. It requires bearing the burden you have created. This is Moral for two reasons.
First, this is Moral- universally moral- because it is a natural form of "negative reinforcement." Much like getting burned when you place your hand on a hot iron, this is not some cosmic "punishment," though it may function as same. It is simply the natural result of your actions. In this way, we might not even call this "responsibility" except for two things. First, this kind of responsibility is often delayed. Unlike touching a hot iron, Moral Responsibility can come minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or even years or decades after the actual offense. From dealing with the lack of trust shown to you after you've lied to someone, to dealing with the pain you've caused others and yourself from some other lapse, these are still natural results of your actions, they are just delayed from the incident. Second, this kind of consequence can be avoided, to some extent. You can avoid telling people you lied to them, and, if you're clever and lucky, not get caught in your lie. Even if you are caught, you can refuse to be held accountable for it, and just avoid the person to whom you lied. It is this ability to be avoided that changes these natural results from mere "consequence" to "responsibility."
Second, this is Universally Moral because you have the power, in accepting or rejecting responsibility, to take a Moral Action. It is very, very easy, when you've had a lapse of judgement, or moral failing of any kind, to allow others to take the fall, or to allow them to get "caught in the cross-fire." Indeed, it is often our natural reaction to these consequences to seek some kind of shelter from them- and that shelter is often our family, friends, and acquaintances. By shouldering the responsibility, by being willing to bear the cost of your decisions on your own, you are taking Moral Action by sparing them that burden.
So, we have shown that Responsibility is part of- or at least necessary to- the Moral Law. And, again, this is the Universal Moral Law, the one that everyone understands, even if they hold no religious convictions of any kind. Box 10 checked. Next: The Government has a Moral Responsibility to the Governed.