Remember that old Dr. Seuss classic, Horton Hatches the Egg? It’s one of my favourites. At the start of the book, the elephant promises to sit on an egg until it hatches, taking over for a bored, lazy bird named Mayzie (after a certain amount of hesitation).
When the negligent Mayzie flies off for a year long vacation, Horton gets down to business. He figures out a way to strengthen the tree so that it’s able to support his weight, and climbs up to perch on the egg. The massive elephant sits perched in the tree for months, through lightening storms, blizzards, and teasing from his friends. But despite terrible conditions, he stays on that egg, doing his duty, even after being captured by hunters and sold to a circus.
In the end, he was rewarded for his efforts. And he deserved it—after all, “an elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent!”
I love this book because it poses an important question. Will you be faithful, one hundred percent? Will you stay fully committed to your duty, no matter what happens?
These questions are especially important to me because of the time I spent in the military. After all, when a man or woman joins the military, there’s an inherent understanding that they could end up sacrificing their life for their duty. What could possibly motivate someone to put their life on the line in this way?
It’s a question that people have been asking for decades. Throughout history, great thinkers have been debating whether or not people do their duty for love or fear of punishment. John Locke framed the question by asking why we should do our duty. Should we do it because God will bless us, or because He’ll punish us if we don’t? Should we do it because it could bring us wealth and fame, or because our peers will think less of us if we neglect our duties?
When we look at remarkable martyrs throughout history, we realize that duty should be done for love, not fear of consequences. Jesus is the greatest example of duty because he chose to sacrifice his life to save humanity.
Socrates is another great example. Although he had his faults, he still felt it was important to ask the people of Athens questions about justice and freedom. He angered many people, and was eventually given the option to be killed or deny his teachings. As hard as it must have been, he stayed true to his duty and chose death.
From Roman martyrs to Joan of Arc, people have been giving up their lives for what they believe in for centuries. What’s your duty? Would you give up anything to do the right thing?
Until next time!