Fear is not a lasting teacher of duty. – Cicero
What does that mean?
This quote is about fear, and duty. Fear is a powerful motivator, but a brief one. Once the danger or threat is gone, so is the motivation. If the only reason you do something you should be doing (a duty) is because of fear of punishment or some other consequence, then when the enforcing authority is not there, you will stop doing your duty.
This is a bad way to learn duty, because you aren’t learning to do your duty when it is supposed to be done, but only when you think that in failing to do it, you will be caught and punished. That isn’t the proper way to do things, is it? Does the performance of the duty become part of you, or just the fear of punishment? That’s why it’s not a lasting teacher, right?
Why is duty important?
When I think of duty, I think of the military, or the Boy Scouts. “Do your duty…” is how the language is used. However, if you have a baby, feeding it is a duty. So is changing it. For most of us, making the bed, doing laundry, vacuuming, cooking food, and cleaning the kitchen are also duties.
You probably have experienced it in real life or seen shows on TV which included young bachelors and the condition of their apartments and their kitchens. That’s not a lasting performance of duty. If someone was coming over, a girlfriend or perhaps a mom, the fear will likely cause the duty to be performed, but not until then. That’s not performing your duty, is it?
Where can I apply this in my life?
Perhaps as a teen, you had a messy room. Mine certainly was, It only got cleaned on Saturday mornings, as that was when it was checked. The rest of the week, I didn’t do my duty of keeping my room tidy. Today I’m much better than I was, although my definition of tidy probably still doesn’t match my mom’s. But it’s not her house anymore, so it’s not her rules, right? 8)
What other duties do you have? Another word that is sometimes used in place of duty is responsibility. Grab some paper and write down the things you do every day, every week, and every month. In most cases cooking & cleaning are daily, taking out the garbage and doing laundry are probably weekly events, and bills are probably done on a monthly basis. What else?
That list is of the things you out of duty (although the bills may have a bit of fear in them, or the consequences, if you don’t pay). Now dig into the deep corners of your mind for the things you probably should do more often, but only do when you have to. How about preventative maintenance for your house, car, appliances or other big-ticket items? Do you wait until they break or start making scary sounds before you do something about it?
Fear of the cost of fixing something is not a lasting teacher of the duty of preventive maintenance, is it? Does that bring the quote home a little harder than the earlier examples? Add anything else you should do regularly (but don’t) to the list. How often do you check your credit report? How often do you change your passwords?
If you’re like me, the list now covers most of the page. Take a moment and scan through the list. Is there a pattern? Is it mostly laziness, lack of confidence or knowledge, inexperience, is it just not interesting? If there is a common thread that runs through a large number of these list items, that might be a good place to start.
Select a reason/excuse and consider what you’re saving by not doing your duty. Are you saving money, saving time, saving effort, avoiding getting sweaty and dirty? Now consider the result. When things finally have to be done, does it take more money, more time, more effort? Do you end up getting even more sweaty or more dirty?
I have found that doing it right up front (doing your duty) is almost always quicker, easier, and cheaper in the long run. Unfortunately, I don’t always have the good habits to do the duty promptly. How about you? What will it take to get you to do your duty without the heavy hand of fear following you around?
I’m working on changing my attitude towards performance of duty. It’s not a chore, it’s not a pain, it’s an opportunity to preemptively fix a problem before it actually shows up. It’s even better if no one notices that it was fixed. To me, that’s a motivator, to keep things running so smoothly, no one notices. 8)
Like the commercial says, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” It is the truth. Do your duty. Promptly.
From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marcustull156308.html
Photo by RDECOM