Most of my life, I've heard about duty. It's ingrained into most of us. It's everywhere. Ubiquitous. Inescapable. "Do it. It's your duty."
But duty, it turns out, is a poor substitute for something else. It's a tolerable emergency backup plan. The real motivator, the thing that makes a difference, isn't duty. It's love.
Duty says I don't leave the sinking ship unless everyone else is off. Love says I do everything in my power to get everyone else off before the ship sinks, and to safety.
Duty says you paid for a concert, I'll play songs reasonably well for two hours. Love says I'll pour my whole self into this, and by the time it's over we'll all go home exhausted, drenched in sweat and joy.
Duty says I will defend this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Love says I will do all in my power to make this country the best place possible to live.
Duty says I'll fix your car. Love says I'll make it like new, only a little faster, with better gas mileage, and I'll top off the fluids as a bonus.
Duty says I will raise my kids to make it on their own. Love says I will pour into them what I have to help them find their destiny and have the best life possible.
Duty says I'll teach what the curriculum says to teach, and maybe you'll learn something. Love says I will do all I can to make this interesting and practical, and make sure you know it and why it matters.
Duty says I'll stay married to my wife. Love says I'll make sure we enjoy our marriage to the fullest.
Duty says I'll enforce the letter of the law. Love says I care about what the law means, and will try to apply it fairly and with grace wherever possible, reserving the weight of the law only for when it's truly needed, but will use all of that weight when needed to protect someone.
Duty says, "I made you. I'm responsible for you. If you don't screw up you have a chance." Love says, "I'll come live with you, heal you, forgive you, die in your place, and-- if you want-- dwell inside you, perfect you, and we'll have an awesome time forever."
When you can't find the love, and something simply has to be done, by all means use duty to keep going, but find that love as soon as possible. The longer you depend on duty, the more of a habit it becomes, and the more like a machine you become. Machines don't seem to have a whole lot of fun.
"Love will get you through times of no duty better than duty will get you through times of no love!" -The Fabulous, Furry, Faith Brothers