Heather Keith Freeman (jnanacandra) wrote,
Heather Keith Freeman
jnanacandra

On Duty

Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.

But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please - this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time - and squawk for more!

So learn to say No - and to be rude about it when necessary.

Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly o time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.

(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)

-Robert A. Heinlein

So much of being happy and doing your Will depends not so much on what you do, but why you do it. It is, however, impossible to know another person's motivation - it's difficult enough to puzzle out your own.

If someone else wants to consider you selfish, or spiteful, or altruistic, or misguided, or saintly, that's their call. Sure, it's based partially on your actions, but it's also based on their assumptions, framing, experience, and sensitivities, and it's therefore pointless to try to control what other people think of you. It's more than enough to control your own sphere as best you can, and what comes of that will tell you as much about other people as it will about you.
Tags: heinlein, quotes
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