Duty: The Forgotten Virtue?

24 03 2012

Recently my wife and I were discussing relationships and interactions.  We hit upon a characteristic of this generation, something to which we—though older—are not immune.  It is the unrealistic drive to have everything now.

Quantum leaps in technological innovation have taken place over the past thirty years or so, especially with the advent of in-home personal computing.  The upside of these advancements has been the ability to do in moments what used to take days, even years.

But there is a downside.

When you live in an instant, microwave, “I-need-this-yesterday” culture, you become habituated internally to getting whatever you want whenever you want it.  Unfortunately life does not work that way.  The best things still take time.

Here are a few sober earmarks of the “microwave” society:

  • Debt.  Easy credit has made it possible for people in their teens and twenties to rapidly accumulate lots of stuff that took their grandparents a lifetime of thrift and prudence to purchase.  And with such rapid acquisition comes a mountain of debt, including compounded interest.
  • A monstrous sense of entitlement.  An increasingly litigious society with plenty of social programs as fallbacks has helped to produce a generation of employees who often feel like they are unfairly burdened by the demand to work while on the clock.  The result: Personal service is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  This is a trend.  Thankfully, there are exceptions.
  • A disturbing lack of self-control.  We hear often of things being “an emergency” or “urgent.”  But one needs to define the terms carefully.  A cardiac arrest needs to be fixed now.  A plane falling out of the sky needs to be fixed now.  But a teen upset at a parent who says “no” to them does not constitute an emergency.  Nor a thousand other similar “stresses.”

What is the key then to reversing this unhealth?


Duty is that sense of personal and corporate responsibility that takes the interest of others and the interest of the group before personal considerations.  It’s not about me.  Or you.

Duty is what has made societies great.  Its abandonment in favor of personal fulfillment—others rights and concerns be damned—is what has eroded the same great societies.  We don’t have to let that happen here.

Duty means that a man who has a wife or children has a sacred obligation to provide for their needs.  And believe me, there is a world of difference between what one needs versus what one wants.

Duty means that an employee gives eight hours work for eight hours pay.  Without an attitude.

Do your duty today.  It is not glamorous but it is a mark of true greatness.

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