Duty

Impossible to see … The Dark Side clouds everything. But this I am sure of…Do their duty the Jedi will” – Yoda

 

Duty is a word that is synonymous with the Jedi. The purpose of the Jedi was to serve the Republic. Duty was at the forefront of Jedi training and conduct. Even as the Jedi Order collapsed and only Luke Skywalker remained alone on the ancient Jedi Refuge of Ach-To the call to Duty was strong and could not be denied. Luke finally answered the call to action because he was Jedi and bound to do his Duty.

 

We are born for cooperation, as are the feet, the hands, eyelids, and the upper and lower jaws” – Marcus Aurelius

 

Call of Duty

Whether we know or not, each of us has a duty to perform. As human beings our first duty is to live in cooperation and collaboration with others. We are social animals and it is in our nature to depend upon each other. In fact our survival as a species relies on it.  No person is entirely an Island by nature.

We also have a duty to ourselves.  As competent adults each of us has a responsibility to safeguard and maintain our own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. This is necessary for us to function in our roles within society.

Our final duty is that which society accords us in our role. People who earn a living have a duty to their employer. Businesses have a duty to their customers. Teachers a duty to their students and school. Doctors to their patients. Parent a duty to raise their children. All of us interact within the relationship obligations and expectations of duty. We all have a role to play whether we like it or not.

 

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” – Marcus Aurelius

 

Do your Duty!

When I was a Soldier I understood the concept of Duty. Through school I had been instructed in the merits of being a dutiful student. We were taught to respect the flag and honor country and God. Duty it was explained was the most honorable virtue bestowed on Man. Without it we were less than savages and had no honor or belonging. We owed it to our families, school, community, country and the church to be dutiful.  I thought that to be a good person one was duty bound to serve.

The Army reinforced this concept. To shirk one’s duty was seen as a crime. The worst offence was to abandon one’s duty through desertion or “by refusing to soldier”. Insubordination was one thing but conscientious objection or “abandoning one’s weapon” while in uniform was seen as the worst betrayal of duty. There were those who felt it was their personal moral and ethical duty to object to orders by “refusing to soldier”. Some expressed that through desertion.  Either way was punished by imprisonment.

 

Into exile, I must go. Failed, I have.” – Yoda

 

Dereliction of Duty

I was not one of those men who saw duty to personal values as being more important than following insane orders. My constant insubordination and eventual desertion was driven by alcohol and a selfish and destructive attitude. As I got deeper in  to the mess of alcoholism I faced one charge for dereliction of duty after another. I found more ways to infuriate the system even more. Eventually I learned that I could not beat the system. Full of anger and resentment I went AWOL.  With little ceremony I was discharged on return and unceremoniously cast out back in to the world. I had failed in my duty. The rejection was a deep blow.

The years after my dishonorable discharge followed a similar pattern. I seldom remained in one place for long. With little warning I would leave. My loyalties were near non-existent or they lasted as long as the booze did. I could swear a blood oath to complete strangers in a Bar but not recognize them the next day. I could not hold down relationships unless they benefited my drinking and gratified my desires. None lasted long. Duty seemed like a foreign word. In the end I despised the notion of duty as it evoked control, obligation and restriction to my freedom.  Duty did not go with drinking.

 

Happiness is the natural flower of duty” – Phillips Brooks

 

Deon

Deon is the Greek word for binding moral and spiritual duty. It is also means “Of Zeus”. The Ancients placed great importance on personal duty marking it as almost holy. Coming in to recovery I had to embrace a new kind of Duty. This was a spiritual duty I owed to myself and others. Unlike the Duty that I had known in the past there was no need for self-sacrifice or submission to others. I was not compelled to do anything I did not want to do. I only had to follow my heart and act in accordance with my own principles and values.

What was required was a willingness to change and putting faith in a Higher Power I call the Force. I had the freedom to think for myself. My Duty was to not pick up that first drink and to follow some simple principles like self-honesty, humility and gratitude. Others showed me that they had a duty to help me stay sober because it also helped them. In time I could also help others and it would help me stay sober. Duty in that sense made complete sense to me.

 

The reward of doing one duty is the power to do another” – Rabbi Ben Azai

 

 

Duty of Care

These days we sometime hear the word “Duty” thrown about. People use it to remind society that it owes them a duty around their personal security, health, welfare and education. The Police, Military, Emergency Services, Hospitals, Teachers and Public Servants are there to provide us with a “Duty”. We live in a hedonistic and individualistic society where personal pursuits are valued more than the collective good. Many people seldom consider what Duty they owe to others and to the community.

Over the recent decades society has seen a decline in personal responsibility and accountability. Self-Discipline is becoming a rare commodity as is faith. Virtues are increasingly considered less importance than entitlement, celebrating diversity, political correctness, instant gratification, fame and physical appearance over character. We can still care about all of these things if they are important to us but we should find a sense of duty and purpose in our lives.

 

Do your duty and a little more than the future will take care of itself” – Andrew Carnegie

 

Ancient Wisdom

The Stoic and Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote a lot about finding one’s Duty in life. Forgoing a life of luxury and pomp in Rome he sought instead to make his contribution in the defense of the Empire in the wilderness of the northern frontiers. In his works “Meditations”, the Emperor records his doubts and anxieties at the enormity of the task.  A sense of moral duty re-calibrates his resolve.

Luke Skywalker consumed by self-pity on Ach-To finally came to his senses and sought to fulfill his Duty as a Jedi. The Last Jedi only had to remember his purpose and his purpose was service.

Luke Skywalker and Marcus Aurelius shared common traits of responsibility, self-discipline, faith in a Higher Power and belief in a cause greater than themselves. That’s all we need. When you know what it is go out and do your duty.  In that pursuit you will achieve the greatest gift; the feeling that you have fulfilled a purpose and lived life well.

 

It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Fives

Source: Lucas Films

Look around! We’re the one and the same; same heart, same blood. Your training is in your blood. And my blood’s boiling for a fight!” – Fives

In doing nothing men learn to do evil” – Cato the Younger

There are many tragic themes in the Star Wars saga. The Fall of Anakin Skywalker is one and the death of Obi-wan Kenobi is another. The betrayal of Ahsoka Tano is also tragic lesson. The death of Padmé Amidala and the separation of Luke and Leia as orphans unaware of their past and common destiny is a sad and tragic story.

The death of the Clone Arc Trooper Fives towards the end of the Clone Wars is particularly tragic as he died trying to prevent a terrible conspiracy from being realized. What made it more poignant was that Fives was a Clone Trooper that was thrust in to a destiny he had no control over. One that would ultimately lead to the fall of the Old Republic and the rise of the Empire. The story is also similar to that of Cato the Younger, who sacrificed his own life trying to save the Roman Republic from descent in to dictatorship.

 

The Clones

Thanks CT-27-5555. That was close.”

It’s Fives. The name is Fives!” – Echo and Fives

Fives was a Clone ARC Trooper and a loyal member of the 501st Legion. He was called “Fives” because of his number (CT-5555). Surviving multiple battles and demonstrating uncommon bravery Fives quickly became promoted and accepted in to the elite Advanced Recon Commandos (ARC). The Kaminoans had engineered and manufactured the Grand Army of the Republic to fight without pity or remorse and to die without hesitation in service to the Republic.

The Clone Army was a military asset purchased by the Galactic Senate to be used against the military might of the Separatist Alliance, the Droid Army. Being Clones with one purpose they were expendable and the Kaminoans took pride in the precision  of their creation.  They had created the ultimate fighting Force. The Clone Fives was a shining example of the Kaminoan product line. Each Clone was a number, however there was a problem; Fives was more than a number, he was different.

Clones were made to be the same in every way; the model soldier. The Kaminoans designed them to display little variability in behaviour and to follow orders without question or hesitation. Any differences were the result of inevitable genetic drift and personality development during training. These were considered defects. Variations that could be tempered through discipline and control biochips.

The Clones also held a secret which only the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, his apprentice Darth Tyranus and the highest ranks of the Kaminoans knew. Each Clone carried an inhibitor bio-chip which contained the orders for Protocol 66.  When that order was eventually given, every Clone that still carried the biochip in his head suddenly turned his weapon on any Jedi in the area and executed them without hesitation and without pity. They were programmed to become Galactic Storm Troopers once that switch was thrown. Only the Clones who had removed their biochips refused to carry out the orders. Some joined the rebellion.

 

No Ordinary Soldier

Fives was no ordinary Clone. Throughout his career he had questioned the morality and sanity of orders. The Clones were connected by a common genome and considered each and every Clone to be his brother. For Fives it was more than that, he truly cared for his comrades and was willing to risk his life for them.  Fives also had a deep respect and admiration for his Jedi superiors and made it a personal mission to protect them. The sentiment was reciprocated by those Jedi closest to him. Anakin Skywalker, Obiwan Kenobi and Ahsoka Tano were amongst those he called friends.

 

Where is the honor in marching to our deaths?” – Fives

 

As Fives saw more and more of his comrades die and many for pointless reasons he began to question his identity and purpose. Fives believed that Clone were not expendable tools but living, breathing, sentients worthy of dignity, respect, free will and above all life. It was Five’s discovery of Protocol 66 which ultimately led to his demise as he sought to warn the Jedi of the plot to kill them. Fives had stumbled on an unspeakable truth and for that he could not be allowed to live.

 

The Last Roman

In much the same way Cato was betrayed by the corrupt Roman Senate.  The Rebel Army surrendered but was ordered slaughtered by Caesar. Cato had almost stopped Julius Caesar from becoming Dictator of Rome. Cato committed suicide rather than seek pardon from Caesar. The rebellion against Caesar  was defeated. This final defiant act was in line with his principles. Cato preferred to die than lose his liberty.

Had Cato succeeded the Republic would have survived. Caesar would never have taken power from the Senate and abolished the Republic.

 

In doing what we ought we deserve no praise, because it is our duty” – Cato (Joseph Addison Play “Cato”)

 

In the same way a single, solitary soldier who was meant to be programmed not to think exposed the greatest conspiracy in the Galaxy. The Jedi were blind to the truth and the Senate was easily manipulated. Only Fives saw it and he was a tragic figure when none believed him. If Fives had succeeded in his quest to unveil the truth, Protocol 66 may have never happened.  The Old Republic would have survived and Chancellor Palpatine would have been exposed for what he was, a Sith Lord.

 

I am not just another number! None of us are!” – Fives

 

The Power of One

Fives was the last known survivor of his Rookie Squad, “Domino”. Each of the Clones were genetically identical but also had unique personalities. When these personalities worked in tandem they were formidable warriors. Like Cato, Fives was the epitome of the Stoic and it carried him through the war.

Cato and Fives were both stubborn and tenacious, loyal and dutiful to their superiors and subordinates. Both soldiers displayed high moral integrity, resolve, strong leadership and led by example. Above all they distrusted corrupt politicians and incompetent leaders who only sought to serve themselves. Cato and Fives were sworn to protect the Republic. Living by principles was not an option but a duty. They both failed in their duties for reasons far outside of their control. The forces united against them were too great to overcome.

 

I know not what treason is, if sapping and betraying the liberties of a people be not treason.” – Cato the Younger

 

I’ve compared my own mental defect, the one where if I’m exposed to alcohol my personality undergoes a sweeping change, a sort of Protocol 66. With booze I am driven to do and say things that I have no control over. It’s like a switch is thrown in my head. I have to remember that alcohol was more powerful than me for most of my life and that only working the Steps and applying spiritual principle overcame it. Ultimately the only thing preventing me from another fall is reasoned choice and reliance on the Force.

Nations and Empires can rise and fall over night with or without our consent but one’s own mind is his own. It is the only thing we truly own. Every day we battle a cunning foe and that foe is our very self. Our better nature holds the high ground as long as reason prevails.

 

Do not expect good from another’s death.” – Cato the Younger

 

The Point

The point of mythology is to provide us with lessons through storytelling. The stories entertain us but they also provide a message. Sometimes that message is a warning. Star Wars serves that purpose and we take from it what we want. The fictional realm can hold a mirror to reality. We can also apply Philosophy to make sense of life. The tragedy of Fives teaches me that even someone who is just a number can still make a difference in the world. Even the most powerful can know the name of a humble soldier. No person is a number and freedom is a choice.

Star Wars is fiction but the story of the collapse of the Old Republic and the purge of the Jedi resembles the beginning of the death of the Roman Republic and rise of the Empire. Whether Lucas was aware of this historical similarity is irrelevant. The point is that it is in our power to change our own lives for the better, to seek truth and to challenge injustices like Cato and Fives did.

 

“Rex….this…it’s…bigger than any of us…than anything…I could’ve imagined….I never meant to…I only wanted to do my duty. The mission…the nightmares…they’re…finally…over….” – Fives

 

https://www.amazon.com/Romes-Last-Citizen-Legacy-Mortal/dp/0312681232

Jedi have a mission in Life

Jedi are devoted to their mission in life.

Jedi are devoted to accomplishing their mission in life. Sometimes this requires great discipline, sacrifice, incredible focus, patience, inner strength, and a strong sense of duty for accomplishing the mission. But first, a Jedi must determine what his/her mission will be by deep soul searching and meditation. You determine and choose what your mission will be; you decide it for yourself. Then you prioritize or decide how important it is for you to accomplish your mission.

(33 Jedi Traits)

Life’s Purpose

If you were to ask anyone what their life mission was you would probably get blank stares or garbled responses. Most people would not have one. Sure they can convey their hopes and wants. They can describe their ideal life and include words such as “happy, wealthy and healthy”. This picture can include a comfortable existence in a nice home with a loving partner. Perhaps a family and pets to complete the dream. Does all of that really define who we are?

All of us want to feel validated and achieve a sense of self actualization. We want to feel valued and make a contribution. For many, their career is an important part of life. Your profession no matter how humble or high profile defines much of your life. We are remembered as much for our work life as we are in our family and personal life. Political leaders are remembered for their time in office, Actors for their acting and Musicians for their music. Is any of that our true purpose, our mission in life? What do you want to be your epitaph? What do you want to be remembered for?

Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” – Viktor E Frankl

 

Purpose and Plans

People can identify their aspirations and their desires easily enough. Career paths can be mapped out. We can set ourselves new year resolutions, specific goals and one year and five year plans. A financial advisor can draw a road map that takes us to comfortable early retirement with a generous income to age 90 (too bad if you live to 100). We can schedule our lives and set measurable goals. How many of us can actually define our mission in life, our purpose?

The company I work for has a mission statement. Most publicly listed companies do. Shareholders expect to see a mission statement in a company AGM document. They want to read what the company stands for and where it wants to take their money and hopefully make it grow. Read your companies Mission Statement if it has one. What does it say? More importantly what does it say about the company you work for?

From my very first day as an entrepreneur, I’ve felt the only mission worth pursuing in business is to make people’s lives better.” – Richard Branson

 

Don’t let others Dictate

To expect people to write a mission statement for their lives in 20 words or less might be seen as ludicrous. But is it? Conor McGregor the UFC champion has a personal mission statement along the lines of being the “greatest UFC fighter to have ever lived and who will ever live”. The statement is very bold as it assumes that no one will ever surpass his career and that he will continue to dominate the sport until retirement. McGregor knows he cannot control the sport and knows that someone may come along who will challenge him but he has the self belief and the confidence  to believe anything is possible. McGregor’s mission is to prove him right and his detractors wrong.

Conor McGregor’s philosophy is to train to win, all the time, no questions, no doubt. Losing is not in his vocabulary and he won’t let other dictate any different. McGregor refused to accept his defeat to Mayweather as a loss calling it a lesson instead. Love him or hate him, McGregor’s mission is to win. That mindset and approach to business has put him on Time’s list of most influential people in 2017 and made him a billion dollar brand name. There is a lesson to be learned in that.

 

Mission Success

The Jedi had a life mission to serve the Order in any way required. Anyone who has ever served in the military and law enforcement will understand the concept of duty and mission focus. Everything is geared towards ensuring mission success. Training and rehearsals are conducted. The right people are allocated tasks that best reflect their skill set and compliment the team effort. Objectives are set, equipment is obtained, tested and checked. Plans are reviewed and improved. Intel is checked and verified. Risks are identified and assessed. Controls are implemented and contingencies applied. The collective effort is dedicated towards achieving desired outcomes with minimal loss.

How does this apply to our personal lives? Consider that every day is a chance to progress towards success in our own mission in life. A practical philosophy for life is one of the tools we can use to help us achieve our mission, whatever we choose it to be. After all, being on a Path or having a personal philosophy for life is not much use unless it serves in some way.

Our mission in life may simply be to uphold our principles and apply virtues that we value at every opportunity. It may be as simple as getting through every day without succumbing to the temptation to drink. Taking care of our family may be our sole mission. We may choose a mission that is more personalized to what we want to achieve in our personal or professional life. That mission may be to achieve personal milestones such as academic, health, sporting or business success. It may be to help others or make a significant contribution to a cause you feel is important. Whatever it is only you can define it and make it happen.

 

To what service is my soul committed? Constantly ask yourself this and thoroughly examine yourself by seeing how you relate to that part called the ruling principle” – Marcus Aurelius

 

Mission Statement

My mission statement is simple; “Strive to be the best version of yourself everyday”. That’s it. Nothing fancy. I just have to act in accordance with my principles and commit on a daily basis.

Your own mission is yours and yours alone to embrace. In order to achieve your mission you must be 100% committed to it. To be even close to achieving the milestones on that mission you must be prepared to focus 80% of your energy or more towards it. This means dedication, commitment and sacrifice. It must also come with an unbeatable attitude. Without the correct mind set you may step in to the ring and last a couple of rounds but you will never win the fight or take the title. This formula applies to any type of mission in life. For me it is about sobriety and self improvement. Everything that I do somehow relates to my personal mission to become a better version of myself.

“Half measures availed us nothing” – Alcoholics Anonymous

Our Mission in life, our purpose need not be the stuff of legends. Luke Skywalker’s mission was to bring balance to the Force.  It was not a purpose he chose, it was thrust upon him by fate. Never the less his actions resounded across the entire Galaxy and changed countless lives. Our mission may not be as grand or predetermined as Skywalker’s but once we define what our mission in life is it can be still be significant in our lives and can also impact on others.

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history” – Mahatma Gandhi

Define your Mission

Realizing our mission in life need not be difficult. Once we understand ourselves and know what our values are and commit to those a mission statement really only validates our purpose and takes it one step further. Grab a piece of paper and write down the answers to the following questions:

  1. What are my values?
  2. What are my core principles?
  3. What do I want my life to stand for?
  4. What are my unique qualities?
  5. What do I believe my purpose in life is?

Create a mission statement that reflects all of the above. Remember that we need not get it right the first time. In time it may change. Once you have a mission statement your purpose in life, whatever it is, becomes clearly defined.

A mission statement can be used as a constant reminder, a mantra for motivation and a defense against complacency and despair. Some days we question the point to everything and apathy can set it. Other days people will challenge your purpose and try to steer you away from it. Revisiting the questions above and thinking about your mission statement can serve as an anchor and a compass needle. Sometimes that is all you need to get up and keep fighting for another day.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”- Theodore Roosevelt