Duty. Honor. Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.
- Douglas MacArthur 1962 Thayer Award Acceptance Speech
Commitment is something that seems to be lacking in many areas of life these days.
Statistics point to frequent career transitions, and a lack of stability with a particular organization or company. Similarly, companies spend less time and effort on organizational health than they do on budget.
Marriages are equally likely to end in divorce as they are to end when "death do us part."
Event registration and RSVPs mean much less than they used to. I know this because of all the events I have put on over the past three years (which are quite a few) I can state that combined at least 1/3 of the RSVP'd people failed to attend.
Church attendance is down, and membership in non-profit, lobby, and special interest groups are selective. In fact, most non-profit aid organizations have more opportunities for giving than they do for volunteers. Giving $25 a year, or even a month, is much less of a commitment than asking someone to give their time actually doing the work.
Even the nature of our buildings, work contracts, and public sector show how fleeting we view everything. Signing a two-year satellite TV or cell-phone contract seems to put us back quite a bit.
In an era of individual and corporate rights and freedoms, anything seen to be limiting these freedom is viewed warily.
I believe commitment is not as widely held as a virtue as it has in the past. Commitment and duty are only relevant so long as the individual holds them as such.
The handshake agreement is nearly extinct in our society, replaced with the fine print of thousand-word contracts.
People shy away from commitment, no matter what area of life it is in and it has been this way for thousands of years.
But we need to be reminded that commitment is necessary. Douglas MacArthur understood commitment, just as all cadets at West Point are instilled with this code of Duty. Honor. Country.
Duty is the innate character of an individual to follow through on one's obligations, promises, commitments, and responsibilities.
Honor also points to one's character: yes means yes and no means no. Integrity matters, and this is an intrinsic, an internal check because it matters how we view ourselves. If a promise or handshake is given, it is fulfilled. To do otherwise, regardless of external consequence or not, is not even an option.
Country leads to the ideals which form the foundation of belief. For leaders of the United States Military this if of course very literally the country which they are swearing an oath to defend and protect. Country can also refer to those core convictions, belief sets, and ideals which are non-negotiable and essential to the moral standing and social order in which we live. Any actions which would violate this moral and legal code should never be entertained as viable options (i.e. upholding the Geneva Code regardless of whether other nations do or not as it is a part of our commitment to a just society).
Duty. Honor. Country.
I could probably go on and on about this creed and what it means in my life, but the point for today is that it is necessary for anyone to
Do we recognize how commitment matters? No society can exist without order, and order requires commitment. Those who serve that order understand commitment in one form or another, whatever way they perform it, from troops to firefighters, public servants to teachers, and even judges to garbage collectors.
Life is not to be lived solely out for one's self. If your life has no commitment then you are truly only out for your own ends - a social survival of the fittest taken to a purely egocentric end.
Because if you want to have any relationship, whether a friendship, business acquaintance, or marriage, you must understand your commitment.
Its a lonely place to try to live without commitment. No relationship is even possible without duty, without honor. No society exists without concepts of country.
Will we let them "reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be?"