Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Love vs Hate, Committment and Duty

Lots of thoughts running through my head lately...

I was in a Bible study the other day when a friend asked for a definition of love and hate. I said that love is letting people do whatever they want to do, while hate is telling people there is a standard that all of us must uphold. Of course my definition was "tongue in cheek" but practically speaking it matches the working definition many people use.

Commitment. It's a word most of us don't like. Sure, we're willing to help. Let me know what you need help with and I'll see if I can make it. But don't ask me to make a regular commitment to anything. And if there is something I need to sign up for in order to participate, I'll hold my options open to the last minute (and then some). But does anything worthwhile happen without commitment?

Duty is another word most of us don't like or don't understand. The Press publishes frequent stories about someone who is being heroic. But I often wonder if it really is heroic, or whether a person is simply doing their duty. If a child is in danger, you protect them. If a criminal is on a rampage, you stop him. If a building is on fire, you try to save the victims. In most cases, this isn't heroism, but rather simple duty. It is what is expected of us because of our common humanity and it is expected of us by reason of our citizenship. Heroism is going beyond the call of duty, but most of us set a pretty low bar for what constitutes duty and thus what constitutes heroism. In all of these cases, the actions are virtuous, but the bar for what is expected for a citizen to simply be doing his duty should be much higher. But what can we expect in a country where most people think of citizenship as the equivalent of a permanent work visa?


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