Duty is commonly believed to be that which you do because it is expected of you, regardless of your own feelings. From our perspective duty is that set of obligations voluntarily assumed and discharged. This may be as simple as proper courtesy or as complex and arduous as the journey of the Forty-seven Ronin. There are some obligations you accept when you choose the Warrior's Way. Included in your obligations are courtesy and honesty.

Courtesy includes all of those forms which lubricate the machinery of human interaction. People who disregard the forms of courtesy as empty and meaningless do not fully understand the concept. Though the forms seem empty, obeying them with a cheerful attitude can make the other person feel better. Don't be surprised if you feel better, too. Acting pleasant can often change your attitude to match. This cheerfulness is in itself a worthy goal.

Courtesy does not exist to force people to be nice to people they don't like, or to like each other. It does provide an expected standard of conduct to which they can conform. This is the sedative aspect of courtesy. By giving two antagonistic parties a norm of behavior it allows them to conduct their business with a minimum of friction. At least as important is courtesy between friends. the closer you are to someone, the more courteous you should be. This is too often neglected.

Honesty is often an act of courage. In life it is often easier to lie and slide on. The moral courage needed in such a situation should be something to which every Warrior aspires. Do not mistake courtesy and honesty for antonyms. A Warrior's honesty and courtesy includes telling the truth, carefully. Telling the whole truth on a social occasion is not only usually foolish, it is almost always unnecessary. When asked something awkward tell the truth. Not necessarily the truth that was asked for, but the truth. Although the Warrior should always tell the truth it is not his mission to correct the delusions of the multitude or he would do nothing else. No one can be deceived like a deceiver or cheated like a cheat. When asked for advice give good measure, but force it on no one. Speak your mind judiciously, act your heart, and never give anyone reason to doubt your word.

The ultimate duty of a Warrior is self-sacrifice. It is his lot to expend himself in defense: of friends, family, country, and ideals. Most important are his ideals for it is within them that you find justification for all else. It is his lot to die, always. It is the lot of all others as well but in recognizing this impending doom all actions take on a greater significance. Always ready to die, the Warrior is always ready to live. Negative feelings lose their sway, and simple things take on a beauty never before noticed. Remember that Death walks on your left. He is your friend and he will keep you honest.

Having dispensed with death by accepting the inevitable, the Warrior relishes life. Life has a flavor unmatched for those who have fought for it. The Warrior usually fights for something more complex than simple survival; though while fighting survival is a very valid goal. By physical training and emotional outlook the Warrior is uniquely suited to defend others. This defense is often physical, though not always. In modern society it is generally more difficult to defend an ideal. To maintain idealism in the face of incompetence, cynicism, and corruption requires fortitude and conviction. It does not require the blind devotion of Don Quixote de la Mancha. When devoting yourself do it knowingly, to someone, or something worthy of devotion. The blind loyalty of devotees exerts no restraint on a fanatical leader. The considered opinion of strong and independent individuals is less likely to go astray. The group of individuals may not be as strong as a group subordinated to one leader, but it is moreflexible and has more room for growth.

The conclave of Warriors should consist of a group of individuals; all teaching, all learning. Each Warrior must be capable of making his own decisions. A Warrior should not force another to follow him OR allow another to compel his obedience. The foundation of the Warrior's condition lies in independent thought and action. The Warrior does what is necessary and takes personal responsibility for his actions. Personal responsibility is the key for all Warriors.

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Copyright 2000 by Gregory R. Gagnon