I have always been told that duty comes first. We look with great admiration at Ramayana where Lord Ram is called “sarvaseshtra purush” as he acted in sync with the duties imparted to him without ever questioning them. He was such a great king that he chose to ask Devi Sita to leave his kingdom when her purity was doubted by the dwellers of Ayodha. Such great was his sense of duty as a King that he completely forgot his responsibility and love towards his Wife. This is an epitome of “Duty”, however have we ever though what would have we done if we were in his place? Would we have chosen the duty of king over the love for wife or would we have done the other way?
A little thought over this would enable us to understand that the question is actually a lot deeper and requires a lot more working on grey cells. They say our life is nothing but what we have deliberately chosen, it is a consequence of our choice and many a times we need to make a choice between duty and happiness. Is it always the case that we need to sacrifice our happiness and the smile on our loved ones for the sake of Duty?? No I do not mean being greedy and ignoring the duty and just working for oneself. But I am simply questioning the belief that we need to choose Duty over anything else.
For a soldier his duty towards his country is more important than anything else. Such great is he and his family that they do not give priority to anything else but their duty. Well if this was not the case and the soldiers only joined the defenceforces for the livelihood than many countries would have lost their independence . Here it is obvious that the sense of duty is very important to be present among the soldiers. If only the same “sense of duty” was there among our politicians and citizens who “elect” them, our present would have been completely different. NGO's are organizations built to help the needy, to provide happiness to those who have been deprived of the same from ages. Imagine if such organizations also start functioning to make money and they lose their sense of duty then what would happen to the millions who are deprived of a lot many things which many of us take for granted, although there are exceptions to the above examples yet in the majority the sense of duty prevails.
Now let us look at personal duties, the duty of a child to his/her parents, the duty towards husband/wife etc. Here too epics teach us that we should not question our duty, but we should do all we can do to fulfil these duties. Let us look from the perspective from those children who are subjected to cruelty by their own parents. How can we expect them to fulfil their sense of duty towards those who instead of bringing a smile on their face ignore the tears that flow from their eyes?
If we keep ourselves in their place, we would know the agony they face, would we be able to fulfil our duties of a child towards parents when they themselves fail miserably to fulfil the responsibilities of a parent. The same thought process can be applied to all relationships, be it that of a husband-wife, siblings or professional.
I think the choice to do ones duty depends on the “cause” . For the soldier the sacrifice made is for the country to protect million others, the entire nation depends on him , every little sacrifice he makes to do his duty ensures that million others have all the reason to smile. However can a child whose childhood was spent fighting life, seeking a reason to live, can we expect them to forget their dark childhood and to fulfil their duty as a child?
But if we say that duty is to be done for one and not to be done by another isn't it like changing the definition of a word as per our choice? And who would judge if the meaning identified with the word is correct and not chosen as per convenience. Or is it all situational, meaning of many words change with respect to situations, the meaning of good and bad itself are not definite but depends on the context used !
The answer to this question, I think is very individual specific, for example, for every soldier it is the duty which is above everything for him, and then again for a person who has had a dark childhood, whose parents did not provide him the care and love he required chooses to ignore his duty and live a life independent of his parents.