When you hear the word duty

... does it make you laugh like a little kid? I do, and then I like to say it over and over again. The Duty Free aspect of the international terminal at the airport also cracks me up.

I've been musing about duty and obligation as of late. For a long time they held the same meaning... a negative one... practically a four letter word. In seeking freedom from the rigidity of "have to," I was a champion of "want to." As some friends will testify, one of my favorite questions was "Well, what do you want?" I gladly adopted a therapy prof's motto: don't should on yourself today.

I wanted to be free of duty/obligation and not do anything if my heart wasn't in it. And I preached this rhetoric to those around me. It seemed that so many people were taking action only half-heartedly or grudgingly and there was no desire behind anything.

I reminded myself that Scripture talks about duty, and that it's portrayed positively and even as godly. I began to separate duty from obligation. I don't know if it's semantics, but I think obligation is doing something because you think you should even though you don't really want to or feel like it. I think duty, on the other hand, is sticking to a commitment because you care about the people it affects. Duty reminds me of those who are in the army and believe they are fighting for a greater good. It's not about what each individual wants, but it's about what's best for the country and its people. Duty is related to integrity, and it reflects willing selflessness.

I resonate with this definition of duty as a Chinese American woman. Often I am pulled to serve my family even if it is inconvenient, and I can tell when I'm doing something out of obligation or duty. Mostly it's reflected in my heart, and I remind myself that there's a greater good that I'm serving even if I don't feel a personal gain.

I don't think I have these ideas fully thought out yet so I don' t know if I totally made sense. I think the word obligation also exists in the Bible too. Ah... the joys of late night blogging.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you have very deep and thoughtful thoughts at night. (: i like this one. will look forward to the one about "the right one" xD