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!