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  • Duty


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Friday, November 09, 2012 6:05 pm Email this article

    ​As an experiment, I have asked middle-age and younger people to tell me what the word "duty" means. The majority of American young people believe it means ‘tax’, thinking of duty-free shops at airports. They are hard-pressed to come up with any other meaning. Isn’t that a pickle?

    In discussing Order #1 "Eat less food" with patients, I explain that in other countries, in France which I know well and in Africa, mothers teach their sons that no one is entitled to more than their fair share, of anything. I get the feeling that most American men feel entitled to anything they can get. By hook or crook. Hence Lance Armstrong. Hence Bernie Madoff.

    But moderation is a positive virtue, a thing to be valued and cultivated. It is not, as Americans believe, a sign of weakness or a fear of competition.

    They have put a hamburger on your plate the size of a watermelon. What to do? It is immoral to eat the whole thing. You have a duty to leave part of it on the plate, or take it home or give some away. In the future, order a smaller portion.

    I found several definitions for "duty", but my favorite is–'the binding force of what is right'. Beautiful, isn’t it? Nice ambiguities. Duty binds us to a task. Duty binds us to each other.

    Articles on the same subject can be found here:


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