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February 23, 2017

Stop Doing Your Duty

“A sense of duty imprisons you.”
(Jennie Holzer)

I know this may sound crazy, but contrary to what your grandparents may have told you, duty and obligation and honor are not the highest values of civilization. And they’re among the worst values for creating great relationships.

The problem is the duty motivation can only last so long. Eventually, everyone who does their duty long enough will come to expect others to reciprocate. “I’ve done my duty to society, and now society needs to do its duty to me!” This is actually quite logical, but it builds transactional relationships that are only as strong as everyone’s perceived sense of equality. As long as everyone feels treated exactly fairly, then duty-based relationships have a chance of working.

Of course, this never happens in reality. Each of us tends to overestimate our contribution and underestimate others’, leaving us all feeling a bit under appreciated at best, cheated at worst. .

What’s the alternative? Moving beyond duty, and towards freedom and love. Only freedom and love can motivate each of us to give and contribute, even if we don’t feel fully reciprocated. Only freedom and love can shake us from our shoulds and oughts and supposed tos, and shape us to act not because we have to, but because we want to.

“I do” is a free act of love, not duty.
“I will protect you, provide for you, and prepare you for adulthood” is a free act of love, not duty.
Even “I will do my job” is a free act of love, if you actually want to enjoy your work.

Peace begins with pause,

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