“The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Call it a midwestern bias, but to my mind the most important quality of the American spirit is the notion of “duty-first.” Moreover, the degree to which an individual embraces “duty-first” in his living is perhaps one of the greatest predictors of long-term success in his public and private life.
No matter where you are on the spectrum which spans duty-first and self-first, you can take steps now to ensure that your life serves to magnify and perpetuate all that is wonderful and true of your country. The formula is quite simple: do something today that you need to do but don’t want to do.
Once that becomes secondhand, take the next step: relinquish the temptation to judge that which you have to do. Judgment compromises your ability to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, furthermore, it impairs your ability to discharge your primary duty: the ability to seek after and investigate the truth.
Duty is the price of living righteously, fulfillment is its wages.
5 thoughts on “Duty-First”
I had always thought the point to aim toward was making the final goal of self-first and duty-first the same goal, as in feeling that duties were enjoyable. Yet I think that your way of thinking gets to the heart of the matter in an easier way.
Doing your duties first no matter how you feel takes all of the wiggle room out of it mentally. If it is a duty, it gets done first. Relinquishing judgement rather than trying to make duties “fun” is where I really see the difference in your approach. What is important about a task is not how it makes the doer feel, but the task itself.
Excellent subject. I think another way to phrase this is “work ethic”. Willing to do our duty doesn’t have to feel arduous or slavish. As you have the experience of the satisfaction of completing something or a job well done you realize it is another form of currency. Chasing the experience of being free from responsibilty is an opiate as powerful as any substance; it dulls the keen sense of ability and the pride and joy of accomplishment. It robs us of our dignity and power.
wonderfully put, thank you!
I really enjoyed this morning’s post.