Does that need explanation? Obviously someone sleeping while on duty! Ah, to be able to do such a thing in real life and get away with it!

“…..the Epicurean or Stoic sage is someone who basically says to himself, ‘The less I get involved in all the complications of the world and leave the folly of men to unfold independently of myself, the more I’ll succeed in keeping out of harm’s way and won’t find myself mixed up in potentially disturbing trouble. At all costs, I must avoid convincing myself that I can change anything. The only thing I can change is the way I behave and think in the face of those circumstances. And the worst thing I can do is take up the causes or take sides in anything’.”
~ Jean-Francois Revel.

One of my friends is in a very difficult condition because of the shenanigans of his younger brother. The latter has been a vagabond and a waster and has caused my friend and the rest of his family a lot of problems financial, legal and moral.  My friend, being relatively well to do after a lifetime of struggle and hard work has helped him any number of times with the hope that it would be the last time and that the brother would change his ways.  Unfortunately, it has not worked out that way.  The brother is now in dire straits with nowhere to go to, his own immediate family having deserted him, in bad health and in financial troubles.  He is currently a resident of the city where I live whereas my friend is far away from here.  

Following the latest tryst with hospitalisation for some serious illness, the brother contacted my friend and requested that he be allowed to go and live with him. This is the most bizarre suggestion considering all that has happened. So my friend sought my advice on what can be done and I suggested that the brother be shifted to an old people’s home and if necessary, the expenses be borne by my friend. To keep a distance between the two I suggested that I look for places near where I live and I found some very suitable places at affordable cost and my friend offered the alternative to his brother. The brother has not accepted this offer and my friend is extremely disturbed because he feels obliged to look after his younger brother as he is duty bound whereas, I being a little detached suggest that he simply forget the matter till the next emergency, when we can again make this proposal to the by then hopefully amenable brother.

This strong sense of duty is something that we are all brainwashed into carrying and often end up performing at considerable personal discomfort and financial strain. I have personally experienced this as my regular and older readers well know, but while the process was going on, nothing could have stopped me from accepting the responsibility that I had taken over as a duty to be performed. I know others, some readers included who too have taken on familial responsibilities with a sense of duty to one’s family members, deserving or otherwise and have paid high prices in terms of emotional stress, financial loss and even physical harm.

On the other hand, I have personal experience of sacrificing to carry out a duty towards a loved one as I know others who have done so too, with highly satisfying feelings of worthiness and even joy that we were able to do something for those persons.

The difference between the two effects is in our approach to the duty as being performed as being towards one deserving or undeserving. Let us take the case of my friend and his brother. My friend considers that he is duty bound though his brother does not deserve any consideration, whereas, I, not being a blood relative, could afford to be like the Epicurean or Stoic sage and recommend a rather convenient though impersonal solution.

So, my submission is that performing one’s duty is per se not the great thing it is supposed to be, but out attitude towards it makes it a pleasurable or painful experience. So, how appropriate Revel’s observation about Epicureans and Stoics!

This topic was suggested by me for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently eight of us write on the same topic every Friday.  I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort.  The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, PadmumShackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!


19 thoughts on “Duty.”

  1. Luckily all my & Tom’s relatives are just like us—Ahem –well adjusted, mentally sound, moral, educated & financially stable. So I could tell that person I wasn’t going to be an enabler & he’d have to “shape up”. But then I can’t imagine what I’d really do, having never been there.

  2. “our attitude towards it makes it a pleasurable or painful experience.” Amen to that. One of my favorite questions is. “How can I get this done and enjoy the process?” I spent most of 12 hours today going through old papers, saving some, tossing most of them. In fact, it was a great day because I managed to get myself into the mood. I still have more to do, but I’ve been at it several days now, and I can see progress being made. I have to remind myself, “That’s enough for one day. here’s plenty more fun tomorrow.” 🙂
    Cheerful Monk recently posted..Christmas Eve

    1. I keep coming back to that favourite theme of mine as far as you are concerned. You are remarkably self sufficient and do not seem to have the kind of normal problems that us lesser mortals have to handle! I actually envy you.

  3. a fascinating topic rummy.
    i agree in that duty of caring for someone you love dearly doesn’t even seem like a ‘duty’ at all. when caring for bob and my mother . . .
    the word duty never entered my mind. love over-rides all.
    i have learned that there are people in this world who create their own constant catastrophes. they go from one ‘crisis’ to another.
    then they use emotion blackmail on others to clean up their messes and rescue them.
    i am tired of those people. i’ve had a few in my life.
    none of them family members thank goodness. maybe that would be different. like bhb . . . i’ve never had that arise so wouldn’t know.
    those i speak of were friends.
    well . . . i THOUGHT they were friends at the time.
    until i finally realized the friendship was more of a situation of USING me. continually helping or rescuing a user is not helpful to either party.
    i politely but firmly cut ties. i’m sure they have found someone else to emotionally blackmail for their survival. sad but true.
    tammy j recently posted..one christmas eve

  4. Ah, yes…duty. I would see myself and duty-bound as a general rule, to anyone within my realm of family and friends. My husband, who is also helpful to a fault, sometimes chides me for this. Nevertheless, I would rather do my duty well than to ever shirk responsibility.
    Mother recently posted..Holidays…Joy or Disappointment?

  5. Each case individually evaluated. For me it has been helpful to view such duty as a “gift” freely given without expectation. I do not attach results. But neither am I a fool. I ask of frequent beggars “What do you need” and get it for them. It is rarely money. Money enables and kills.
    wisewebwoman recently posted..Sorrows Come

  6. I found much food for thought in this post. This last year, I was finally forced to decide that my husband and I could no longer be dragged through the ups and downs of a beloved relative’s life, emotionally or financially. I have decided to love him wherever he is, up or down, but the emotional and financial turmoil of suffering when he did began to affect my and my husband’s health and finances and impact our ability to be available to ourselves and our children and grandchildren. Of course, I cannot entirely shut off the feelings that I have for this beloved family member, but I am working letting love and grief live alongside the peace of mind we need to make the decisions we need to make. So, so hard to do. You are being a good friend to your friend to have helped toward making some objective decisions.

    1. Since reading the post, my friend and I have been on separate mails and telephone calls and have now resolved the issue. The kind of experiences that you and your husband had are not new to my friend and his wife either. I personally went through such periods thankfully short but harrowing nevertheless.

  7. I have no such “duties” but recently I made a proposal in regards to some problems one of my close relatives is under duress with. The offer was turned down by her, as she believes that is all good on her planet…it’s not! But she can’t see that…

    It was evident just this last week, when the usual Christmas Day gathering was split right down the middle. Her 2 adult children in NZ (the others overseas) have had a major falling out…semi-over her and one of the spouses AND so it meant that relative had to split her days up as well, instead of it all together…

    the split occurred just a few months ago…have no idea how 2015 will go; but I can rest easy that I tried to do my “duty” on the matters 🙂
    Cathy in NZ recently posted..Drifting with “hearts”

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