Duty and Commitments,
Concerning my newly married friends: Dave Chon and Tiffany Chon
It is now the day after I was honored to be invited to attend and take part in (as a groomsmen) the wedding of my long time friend Dave Chon (known him for 11-12 years) and my much newer (but still very close) friend Tiffany Chon (prior: Tiffany Park)
After the nights awesome celebration, I’m home the next day, thankfully free from the obligation of work for one more day to rest and recoup, and many thoughts have crossed my mind and one of the major ones has to do with DUTY. Commitment in the scope of marriage, about all these beautiful vows we give so seriously in the act of marriage and so one would think we would seriously hope see be realized.
I was struck with the irony of what the popular view of Duty is and how easily it becomes reversed as a virtue. Duty popularly understood is “to do what’s expected/agreed to” PERIOD. I fell the way we commonly understand duty gives it way too much brevity to be of much use to anyone, to the point that it can become a detriment to our character and the value of others. When we consider the logical consequence of such an interpretation we realize how shallow such a sentiment is when it’s divorced from our major values. If Duty is to act in accordance with a rule or tradition, PERIOD but then adhere to no lasting standard of our life as a guidepost to it’s proper execution, then this becomes a truly sad way to treat the principle and the people subject to it. It becomes an equal “virtue” for both virtue and vice. Something to be wielded not only by those who accept it’s premise with honorable motives, but also those who seek to control by force those they deem so ‘worthy’ of enslavement.
I submit that if we must have a sense of duty, then how much better is it to have it be a duty born not of ONLY whim or law or custom, but because what we are being dutiful about is in accordance with our own deepest values, both the values inside of us as individuals and those of others we value in turn, and so we are able to hold accountable both parties to such a standard of commitment in the first place.
Nobody loves in a vacuum. Nobody loves anyone of worth and then tells them the next minute: “I love you for no particular reason at all, there is nothing about you I cherish, nothing particular about you I value, I simply just love you.” Nobody speaks to anyone so loved in this manner and to do so as an example reveals the truth of love, that it is reciprocal in nature and to deny this truth causes it to lose so much of its power…if we embrace so arbitrary a standard of love, then we can only give so arbitrary a love in return.
I can clearly see my friend Dave and Tiffany don’t love in that shallow way. They love each other because they VALUE each other as a deep reflection of what they approve and enjoy from one another and it motivates them to better them-self in turn, not something due to solely edict, or custom, or tradition, but because of what they each offer to one another in values and principles and character, both implicit and explicit, both conscious and subconsciously…it’s the total sum of what he gives to her and she to him that builds up any sense of DUTY involved in the relationship. I watched and listened to their newly out-pouring of commitments, a vocal expression of their values and the expectation that those values will grow and prosper and NOT decline and turn to dust, leaving behind some sad caricature of their youthful vitality and power.
Before we can be of any real value and hence of any lasting appeal to anyone, we have to be committed to ourselves FIRST, not in subjectivist sense of self-interest devoid of reason and principle, not one that divorces virtue from a standard of living, but in the sense of finding the values inside our hearts first, being able to identify them (at least implicitly) and so being able to be an EXAMPLE to others of what we are about, and what we stand for, and what we value in the other person. BEFORE we can hope to share our values in the deepest sense to that other person, or take their own values into our life. We do this, and it IS done by most people who are serious about the other person without any literal cognitive effort, but it IS done more and more explicitly in those relationships that are the most lasting and enduring. Enduring not only in duration, but in the same like-minded joy. How can we settle for anything less? Before we have the right to consolidate these things under the union of a word so united as LOVE, a word so abused in our society; (it being ideally the merging of like values and virtues of two minds/hearts) in the same way that two people are united in marriage and so they naturally compliment and inspire each other.
It is true that in many ways that love IS and can be made a sacrifice, but it can NEVER be a sacrifice of ones most cherished values and principles, because to sacrifice those, what left do you have to give and who is giving them at that point?
As I stood in the groomsmen row watching Dave bow down to his father in the front row after the main vows ceremony, tears filled my eyes, not because of the words being spoken (I’m sadly clueless about the Korean language except for some numbers), but it touched me that such a physical example of powerfully unphysical things, values, virtues and principles aren’t made arbitrarily and I know that if Dave and Tiffany hold true to what they value now and to the things they together profess to value in the future, they won’t end up with a colder (blindly-dutifully obedient) relationship down the road, not a relationship ruled by the iron-hand of “duty”, but ruled by the gifts and joys of a love freely shared and esteemed high in the eyes of both, one of passion and love, whose form may change as the years go by, but one that is first and foremost built on their own virtues and values, and so one that can only made stronger, reinforced by their commitment to each other and to God. A real duty, worthy of obedience, and one that results in a lasting and joy abiding peace.
I wish I could see the future clearly, but my hopes and prayers are with them, through the easy and the tough times alike. Come hell or high water, I’ll be there for them, in one form or another. Call it my own duty as a close friend if you’d like, but make no mistake, and know it here and now that I value both Dave and Tiffany for exactly who they are and who they can become...Nothing else and nothing less will do.
– Brett Strobridge