Historically and culturally in our country (India), sense of duty and detachment to one’s feelings, thoughts, ego (or) results of our efforts have been given highest reverential qualities in a person. In a modern sense, we have moved away from this ideal due to lack of awareness and understanding of its significance in our life and veered ourselves towards a likes-dislikes world.
Likes and dislikes too are needed to certain degree, to address some choices or decisions we make in our life’s path. Although, it shouldn’t supersede the sense of duty, love and reverence in ourselves.
One of the challenges of our times, is this societal movement from sense of duty to our family, our work, our environment and sometimes even to ourselves (to take care of our bodies and ourselves) and moving towards a sense of likes and dislikes, where we now prefer to engage in any activity or event or work, only if we like to do it and if we don’t like it, then we are encouraged to skip or avoid. This has also become the prevalent teaching, parenting and lifestyle approach today.
If we continue to use the same approach, can we then based on how we feel on a particular day or what our likes and dislikes are, decide if we want to take our pets out for a walk, or care for an elderly parent/grandparents, complete a work we started or not or can we refuse our children or family members a meal or medicine because we don’t feel or like to do it?
The sense of duty, whether in friends, colleagues or family members or in any person is usually the quality we admire or encourage in others (knowingly or unknowingly).
Sense of duty, cannot be switched ‘ON’ at some places and switched ‘OFF’ elsewhere, once triggered or activated, usually stays ‘ON’ for all work. We need to encourage young adults and children to inculcate this sense of duty early on. It’s usually observed that after 11 years, it’s a good idea to slowly bring in consciously these qualities of discipline, focus, grit to enable them complete their tasks, follow through on their work, build their virtues and qualities, tweak and strengthen their character and personalities and so on.
Sense of duty is the final result (fruit) and visible behaviour that shows up when all these qualities are fully developed and well established in the growing child or young adult.
The sense of love for work, like gardening, art, creating a product, serving others or sense of love that comes from admiring a person for their virtues, values and universal good characteristics and qualities; the sense of love that is evoked for a person is actually a love of their human qualities, virtues or personalities.
Similarly, the sense of reverence to objects, things, effort – of a person, one who has put in an effort or will to make something or sustaining something or has created a product, a service, an organisation, new path, new nation and so on.
Prior to this sense of duty being inculcated or educated in our children and young adults, we must first develop in them, a sense of reverence in early childhood years and following it up by building a sense of love in their middle school years. These steps will then naturally or easily lead to a sense of duty being developed in the child or adult.
If the sense of duty is not nurtured or educated consciously in the adolescent years, then it will become difficult to work on them once they are mature adults (over 24 years old). Governments across the world can decide whatever age as adulthood for legal, economic and political reasons but real maturity of a human being happens after their 24th birthday. Once this maturity hits them, it will be extremely difficult (not impossible) for them to change their core belief, lifestyles, life approaches, attitudes and behaviours while it’s relatively easier to change, adapt while also sticking to their strengths and virtues when they face life’s challenges provided some good ground work has been done in their initial childhood and adolescent years.
An important thing to preserve in a childhood, is the sense of wonder and awe, sense of joy (of everyday life, of learning and of their efforts and so on) else we will be nurturing a generation which will become jaded, bored, no life-energies, no creativity, no will-power, no word to keep, know it all, seen it all and taken the verve out of life.
As an aside, boredom is the river each human must cross, before their creativity is unleashed and we must not fear it or run from it, rather cross it over to the other side. Digital media doesn’t allow us to making this crossing and hold us back in a way.
It’s an established model in armed forces and similar work disciplines that we cannot change any person’s attitude, but we can change their behaviour and vis-à-vis we can change their attitude.
As parents and educators, when it comes to inner-strength qualities, we need to move away from likes-dislikes of a child and observe if we see positive changes in a child’s behaviour and approach towards life and that should decide how we move forward in their development stages.
Objective of an good education apart from their basic academic education, skills & talent development is to educate the child in developing and nurturing their sense of reverence, sense of love and sense of duty as the 3 pillars of inner strength development.
Wishing you a sense of reverence, sense of love and sense of duty
Capt. Preetham Madhukar