Tag: Duty

Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?

 

“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.

Member Post

 

In the glorious lull between the end of exams and the arrival of two friends from the States for an extended visit (I am simultaneously a kid in a candy shop, over the moon excited to see the friends that I haven’t seen in so many months and already exhausted by preparations), I have been […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Member Post

 

She had this to say: “If senior administration officials think the President of the United States is not able to do his job, then they should invoke the 25th Amendment…The Constitution provides for a procedure whenever the Vice President and senior officials think the President can’t do his job. It does not provide that senior […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Quote of the Day: Duty

 

“Do not confuse ‘duty’ with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.” – Robert A. Heinlein

When I married, I assumed a duty to take care of my wife. It was an obligation I assumed voluntarily, indeed gladly, as did she to take care of me. As she was dying it went without saying I would take care of her.

To Trump or Not To Trump

 

That is the question.

My father spent three years in the North Atlantic, as he put it, “successfully avoiding the German Navy.” That’s about as detailed as he ever got about his wartime experiences. If you’re of a certain age, you knew dozens of men like that. Some felt like they didn’t do enough, others felt like they did too much. 

Member Post

 

Many elements are necessary for the stability and prosperity of a society. For Christians and Jews, the most basic requirements of behavior are codified in the ten Commandments established directly by God Himself. Among them is a standard agreeable even to atheists yet perhaps poorly understood: “Honor thy father and mother.” What does it mean? […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

What Do You Owe The Law?

 

shutterstock_254582680In some ways, I’m one of the nuttier libertarians on Ricochet, always willing to put in a good word for David Friedman and his anarcho-capitalist theories. But I’m also a law-and-order gal: when people come together, it’s easy for me to see that they benefit from agreeing to some rules to guide their conduct (one of the reasons I sympathize with anarcho-capitalists: they, too, believe that rulemaking is such a ubiquitous feature of human behavior that there is a market for law). Moreover, I’m a lawyer’s kid, which means I grew up thinking of due process as a moral good.

For many reasons, I attempt to cooperate with the law. When our home was burgled, though nothing expensive was stolen, I took extensive notes, with accurate hand-drawn pictures of stolen items, and spent several days’ worth of time trying to expedite police action on my case. Not because I thought I’d ever get my stuff back, but in hopes that, if I cooperated with the police quickly, the burglar might actually be caught, and other residents spared the pain we had just been through. Despite my efforts, it took half a year for the police to follow up. The police refused to accept my notes and drawings at the time the case was fresh, and, months later, when a police detective finally took interest, my family had bigger problems to deal with, and we no longer could spare time to help. The material I prepared for the police still sits, collecting dust, on a shelf, a casualty of bad timing.

Even the bohemian crowd I ran with in college made efforts to help the police when we could. We were, for the most part, science and engineering students – the squarest kind of bohemian. When a pervert was roaming the village, half-climbing through women’s windows at night in order to cop a feel, we offered our ground-floor apartment in a rickety, easy-to-break-into house to the police for a stake-out. In retrospect, perhaps this wasn’t a practical offer, but who am I to judge? All I know is we tried to assist them, but were told nonetheless that the police would take no action: it seemed that this fellow (and he was a fellow – I remember his knuckly, hairy hands hovering over me) would have to completely enter someone’s abode and do something even worse before the police would care. Or whatever “We can’t act until he escalates” means.

Member Post

 

  “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.