Duty Is Not A Four-Letter Word

Duty has become something of a four-letter word in our society. We are encouraged to do things because we will enjoy them. (Try it! You’ll like it!) We are encouraged to do things because they will be of benefit to us. (You’ll get a lot out of this.) But, we are not often encouraged to do things simply because they must be done.

Without the concept of duty, people are robbed of the privilege of being part of something greater than themselves. Without the sense of personal responsibility, ownership is lost. When this happens in a nation, the result is usually anarchy, with everyone doing as he sees fit.

Duty implies a sense of responsibility that does not come with privilege. A sense of duty compels people to actions that they would not normally take, to go to lengths that they would not normally go to, and to make sacrifices that they would not normally make.

The mother who gets up at 3 a.m. to quiet a crying child does so because she loves that child, it is true. But there is more to it than just love; it is love that has fostered a sense of duty. Her love for her child has given her a sense of moral obligation to care for the needs of that child regardless of personal sacrifice.

It is this same sense of obligation that causes someone to stop and help change a flat tire. It causes another person to devote his life to a cause. It has caused ordinary men and women to become great soldiers, diplomats, presidents, and kings.

Duty can be a most inconvenient thing. That is because duty usually occurs at the most inconvenient time. Duty usually involves doing something that is inconvenient, uncomfortable, and sometimes unpleasant.

Why do people do these things? If you ask most people with a strong sense of duty, the answer is simply “because they must be done.”

Sometimes one duty collides with another duty. Robert E. Lee was a colonel in the United States Army at the beginning of the Civil War. He did not want to fight against his nation — in fact, he saw the entire Civil War as a great catastrophe for America, and especially for his beloved Virginia. But his sense of duty to his native state compelled him to serve in whatever capacity he was capable.

I may disagree with his decision, but I cannot help but admire his sense of duty.

Overall, a sense of duty makes a man better than he is, and makes the organization that man serves better than it is.

We each have duties, to God, to our families, to our communities, to our nation, and even to our world. Each of us has talents, given to us by God, and meant for use in the performance of our duties.

If each of us saw our duty clearly, and used our talents to their maximum potential, imagine what a world it would be.

Next time you feel a sense of duty coming on, go with it. You will never regret it.

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  • noelfitz

    This is a brilliant article. Many thanks.

    At present in Ireland there is a general sense of cynicism. We see bankers, politicians and officials getting away with corruption. Service and duty seem to be replaced with greed and corruption.

    Thus it is good to read and be reminded of the sense of duty of so many people.

    I read :
    It is this same sense of obligation that causes someone to stop and help change a flat tire. It causes another person to devote his life to a cause. It has caused ordinary men and women to become great soldiers, diplomats, presidents, and kings.

    Very true.

    My only disagreement is that duty is a four-letter word.

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