Friday, September 15, 2006

Duty and Love

I am a big fan of the notion of duty. As much as many bloggers place duty and love in opposition, I think that duty is of the essence of love, and vice versa. We take on duties because of love. I will get up in the middle of the night with a sick child because I love my child. I don’t particularly ‘want’ to (especially if it involves cleaning up any fluids emitted from the child’s body); I’m certainly not ‘passionate’ about tending to sick children (someone else might be, but I’m not), but because I love my child, I do my ‘duty’. A soldier will die for his country because it's his duty, but it's his love for his family, friends, neighbors, homeland, whatever, that makes him feel it as a duty. My own father has lived practically his whole life out of a sense of duty, and as I've grown older myself, I am increasingly in awe of how much he loved his family, even though passionate he is decidedly not. . .

We both love the song, 'Do You Love Me?' from Fiddler on the Roof. After 25 years of shared life, mutual service and pulling together in a common endeavor, what do you know - Golde and Tevye find that they love each other, even though they had never particularly thought about it before. I know that that idea absolutely runs against the grain of modern culture, but it contains more than a grain of truth - that marriage is built on a foundation of mutual commitment and, dare I say, duty, much more securely than it is on passion and emotion. And what about 'love'? "It doesn't change a thing, but even so - after 25 years, it's nice to know."

Now, duty can be done in lots of ways – happily, straightforwardly, grudgingly, etc, etc. If my kids are going to whine and bitch about doing the dishes, I'd rather do them myself (except that they aren't about to be let off that easy).

So I guess, at the most fundamental level, my point would be that ‘duty’ has a lot more to do with 'love' (if not exactly ‘passion’) than meets the eye. . .


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