Duty: The Badge of Honor

8 08 2012

I remember the day President Ronald Reagan was shot.  I was an 11th grader, just home from school and watched the now-famous footage of the assassination attempt.  Thankfully, no one died though Press Secretary James Brady was left debilitated by the shot he took to his forehead.

I remember seeing a photo montage of the shooting in Newsweek some years later.  In one of the photos, Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy (shown in the above photo) was shown jumping in the air, spread-eagle, making as big a target as he could to protect the president.  He too took a bullet.  Why? Because his duty was to lay his life down for the President of the United States.  And he was a man of honor.

Some time ago 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.

Image Credit




6 responses

8 08 2012
Jennifer Stuart

Very good point. The instant gratification makes it so hard to feel the beauty of patience. There is just constant longing, never satisfaction, because there is always something new to want. Always. Being satisfied with “this,” however, can be immensely amazing!

8 08 2012
Christian Fahey

“The beauty of patience…” Well put Jennifer! Thanks for reading!

8 08 2012
Hugh Caley

I gotta say, Chris: debt and “A monstrous sense of entitlement.”; this are the lessons you get out of modern society? Good lord. This sounds, forgive me, like the rantings of a cranky old conservative man, not those of a Christian. What did Christ say about debt? The Bible mentions how evil it was to treat those who are indebted to you badly, and that the poor should not be charged interest. What did he say about charity? I think it would be difficult to argue that even if people do get a “monstrous sense of entitlement” from social programs, that that is not still better than the many who would suffer without them, from a Christian point of view.

“But a teen upset at a parent who says “no” to them does not constitute an emergency.” – who makes the opposite point? No one I’ve ever heard of.

8 08 2012
Christian Fahey

LOL Good hearing from you after a long lapse Hugh. I drove by the farm on Monday. “Entitlement” is a term littered with meaning, though I didn’t use it in the sense I’m assuming you thought I did. Didn’t even have the existence of social programs, in and of themselves, in the radar–which are a good thing and have spared many people a lot of pain and heartache in this stagnant economy. I do believe it is a misuse of any such benefit to allow their place here in the US to adversely affect one’s attitude toward their own contribution to their fellow man. In actuality, what I’m referring to is a good deal of young work force entering the labor market without a due sense of doing a job thoroughly. I am not a cranky old conservative, I assure you and am thankful we have a lot of the social programs available to help the poor (I’ve been a beneficiary as well). And, as a Christian, I help the poor when I can as well. I will, however, stand by the phrase “monstrous sense of entitlement” in view of what I had in mind, namely, the need to give back an honest day’s work to one’s employer without an attitude to either the employer or customers. The poor quality of service in commerce which I’ve observed in recent years (not by everyone, by the way) does not portend great things. Hopefully, my experience hasn’t been others. That was my point. That being said, I hope you, your wife and the qats are well.

8 08 2012
Hugh Caley

Heh, qats. Well, good to know you are not complaining about the many charitable social programs we have (not nearly as many or as good as most of the west has, but better than nothing). That, however, makes your statement sound even more like “You kids get off of my lawn!” 😉

8 08 2012
Christian Fahey

LOL Point taken. And any time I start channeling my inner curmudgeon, I’ve got 3 beautiful ladies who pull me back into line. No desire to be an old crank–of any political stripe. Hey–I’ve got Child Health Plus for my daughters (thank you NY). 😉

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