Duty is something we all face at some point in our life. Whether it’s a parent to a child, employee to their profession, business to their customer or even friend to a friend; we are all expected to meet expectations of our “role” and the duties attached to these roles. So, I’m putting duty under the spotlight.
Even the most independent of people who live by their own rules and claim not to care what others around them say, have to face the dilemma of duty, which could conflict their own desires. It seems no matter who you are, what your background or walk of life, you will be obligated to fulfil your duty or responsibility at some point.
This notion reminds me of a stereotypical Indian daughter-in-law who moves into her husband’s home after marriage, which involves living with the parents-in-law. This comes with expectations of caring for the in-laws by adopting them as your own parents, i.e. caring for them during their ill health, cooking for them, ensuring their needs are met and, in many cases, accompanying them on every social occasion as evidence of how patriarchal she is to her in-laws…God the pressure! When is she able to enjoy time with her husband? Taking a night off to relax or dine out isn’t always an option because the in-laws need feeding! Before you know it, she’s got a bunch of children who need constant attention – feeding, schooling, bathing…So when can this daughter-in-law live HER life? Okay, so this is an extreme generalisation, but hey, that does not make it far from the truth! There are numerous noble women out there (and they’re not just Indian or Asian for that matter!) who are fulfilling their countless duties as the daughter-in-law, the wife and the mother but fail to fulfil their duty as an individual living THEIR life.
In fact, this analogy reminds me of the Liberal Democrats and their position in the incumbent Coalition Government. They have a duty as a coalition administration to support policies of the majority Conservatives, in order to make the coalition partnership work. Yet a lot of these policies oppose the very essence of Lib-Dem politics. Namely, the university tuition fees, which Lib-Dems historically fought against but were swamped by duty to support or face shaking up the (already) fragile British government. Thus, the Lib-Dems are not able to live out their desired policies in full and are almost dictated by their inferior position in power.
So far it may sound as though I’m against the notion of duty and am promoting autonomy. This is only half true. Employers having a duty to ensure the well-being of their staff is a must. Passengers using public transport having a duty not to abuse that transport is a must. However, when this duty begins to impose on your ambitions, principles and desires – a very grey area – that is where I have an issue.
I’m not saying we should all rebel against our responsibilities and live selfish lives but then equally we should not limit our lives to just fulfilling responsibilities. Before you know it, time flies by and your aspirations are a thing of the past. You live in regret and bitterness. Naturally, you think of someone or something to blame. Why? The daughter-in-law should not curse her parents-in-law (although its can be understandable at times!) if she has passively accepted duties without any effort to compromise. The Lib-Dems cannot go on to blame their position in the Coalition Government to justify their actions that oppose their principles. If they feel so principled about their beliefs then at least take a stand and TRY! That is the operative word. Without making an effort and trying to achieve something, you cannot blame the circumstances or responsibilities around you. You cannot blame your children if you lose your social life when you have not even tried to balance the two.
My thoughts may offend some readers who live extremely difficult lives where they have no choice but to fulfil certain duties at the cost of their own desires. I feel for you because I’ve been there! Regardless of surmounting pressure to take on this role, and outsiders criticising me for not fulfilling my duties well, I have only managed to stay (marginally) sane by maintaining some aspects of “me”. As hard as it is, I’m trying to balance my increasing duties with my desires in life so years down the line I can reflect and think “well done Raj, you may not have achieved all you wanted to but at least you tried!”
Yet another load of rambling from me that probably made little sense. But that would explain my state of mind right now!
Live, enjoy, smile. Life’s too short for regrets. Think of them as “learning experiences” and just laugh at the mistakes!