Call of Duty…

     Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are quotes by the wise. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. One of my personal favorites is that by Eileen Atkins, who plays the character of an old wizened woman in the film Cold Mountain (2003). She says, “See I think there is plan, there is a design for each and every one of us. You look at nature, bird flies somewhere, picks up a seed, shits a seed out, plant grows… Bird’s got a job, shit’s got a job, seed’s got a job.” On that account, what then are our individual plan, design, and purpose? Are we cognizant of our moral obligation to contribute to the betterment of our communities and our society, or are we crippled by tunnel vision in our mercenary pursuit of greatness and the “pot of gold” guarded by Leprechaun?       
           “See I think there is plan, there is a design for each and every                one of us. You look at nature, bird flies somewhere, picks up a                seed, shits a seed out, plant grows… Bird’s got a job, shit’s got              a job, seed’s got a job”                                                                                                                                                                                             – Eileen Atkins                                                                                                                                              Few phenomena are an embodiment of greatness and an epitome of altruism like a tree is. Consider a grape vine and its bounteousness; it’s a gift that keeps giving fruit to all but itself. Take a leaf from the book of a Jacaranda tree, which gives shade to those in need by spreading its branches out wide as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. When in full bloom, the majestic Jacaranda boasts its grandeur in a bid to lure the honey bee and give aesthetic pleasure to those who see. Learn from the mighty age-defying Baobab tree, whose resilience and sturdiness is unmatched in all nature, giving a testament of unyielding tenacity and unwavering perseverance when all ill winds blow. Imagine what our plight would be if the indispensible Gum and Pine trees were exclusively preoccupied with growing taller, and taller, and taller, and taller, and taller, denying us their wood on which human life, as we know it, heavily relies upon… Envision how our lives would change if the Willow tree withheld its barks and leaves, denying us its salicin which we use to make aspirin…   
     In précis, true greatness presupposes a higher calling than the sole pursuit of personal gain. In this light, the notability of Florence Nightingale is attributed to her nursing of wounded soldiers during the Crimean War and the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. The heroism of Martin Luther King Jnr lies in the fact that he dared to dream beyond the constricted bounds of his own interests, to envision a nation that truly recognized that all men were created equal, and a society free from unjust stratification on the basis of skin color and race. Lastly, the ingenuity of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs resides in the vision that they had of a future in which computers were not limited to the confines of business corporations, but were present in the homes and on the laps of ordinary persons. Thus, in order to be eminent, preeminent, prominent or noteworthy, it is imperative that we broaden our horizons beyond the selfish pursuit of personal interests, and heed to the call of duty to our society. Like Ellie Wiesel, we can then say that, “our lives no longer belong to us alone, they belong to all those who need us desperately.”

7 thoughts on “Call of Duty…

  1. This is really well written! This is true, that true greatness is about others. However, not everyone has that luxury. That is why most people who achieve it are wealthy first. Someones “true greatness” might be consistently putting clothes on their back. ~ Hierarchy of needs.


    • Thank you Pam!! See, I think we make the mistake of postponing charitable endeavors till we feel we live luxuriously enough to be philanthropic… Look at Florence Nightingale who I mentioned, there is no evidence that she was wealthy, or even trained to be a nurse.. She saw the needs of wounded soldiers, picked up her lamp and got to work. Today she is known as the lady of the lamp! So i’m trying to advocate that we should all change our perspective on life and realize that success and greatness of any kind (financial etc), comes from being selfless and putting others before yourself. Instead of thinking of how can I make money or start a successful business, think of how can I improve the status quo in my community or society… In turn, this will result in financial success. Hope I’m making some sort of sense…


  2. You are making sense. But i don’t believe personally that it’s natural to help others before your own house is in order. So, I’d say its easier said than done. Even then, I would start close to myself by being philanthropic with myself, my family and friends before reaching out to society because I think charity begins at home. And finally I think ‘success” (which is different from greatness) is really relative and personal and that for many people it has nothing to do with society until they’re done with the issues or people closer to them.


  3. True!! Perhaps I was a bit ambiguous and a tad bit idealistic… But in essence, I just think we should all take note that it’s so easy to be taken up in our own little worlds, forgetting that we live in a much bigger one! A world in which we have moral responsibilities of varying magnitude, big or small, but which certainly make a difference in the lives of others.. So we should pursue our goals, labor for our own benefit and for those dear to us.. but maybe when all this is said and done, we must have a minute or two to make a difference in perhaps a stranger’s life.. Have I expressed my point a little more clearly? By the way, I did revise the part in the first paragraph that said, “… moral obligation to dedicate our lives to..”, and changed to, “… moral obligation to contribute to…” Thanks to you!! (y) (y) (y)


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