being good is your supreme duty
“We must also make ourselves flexible, to avoid becoming too devoted to the plans we have formed.” — Seneca
Following the rules and doing your job is extremely important. However, being rigid all the time is not a sound strategy. You must be willing to adapt yourself as per circumstances. When it comes to your work, having principles and a solid work ethic is important. But they needn’t be ironclad. Sometimes, other priorities take precedence in real life and must be addressed urgently without any guilt or remorse.
In the Disney Plus series The Mandalorian, the eponymous protagonist, a battle-worn bounty hunter named Din Djarin, accepts a commission from Bounty Hunters' Guild leader Greef Karga to collect a 50-year-old "asset" for a mysterious man referred to as the Client, who represents a remnant of the now-fallen Galactic Empire. Later, the Mandalorian discovers that the asset is none other than an infant from the same species as Yoda, known as "the Child". He sticks to the original plan and successfully delivers the Child to the Client on the planet Navarro. However, soon the Mandalorian has an uncharacteristic change of heart — he realizes there’s something more important at stake than a bounty. He immediately returns to the Client's base to rescue the Child.
Having been taken in by the Mandalorian creed when he himself was an orphan, he sees in the kid an orphan in dire need of care and protection. This prompts him to abandon his stated mission and become the Child’s protector. It seems like he’s going against his assigned duty, but in reality, he’s responding to a higher call.
Sure, Mando (as he is commonly called) is a bounty hunter, but he has a code of ethics and an understanding of the greater good. He is a man of integrity at his core, which is why he couldn’t comprehend the idea of leaving the Child with the Client.
In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius wrote, “What is your vocation? To be a good person.” The Stoics believed that our primary job on this planet is to be a good human being. That’s our one and only obligation to humanity and nothing matters besides that. In the above-mentioned scenario, Mando, being a man of honor and integrity, knew that he really didn’t have any excuses not to rescue the Child. Even though he would be breaking his deal with the Client, he knew he would ultimately be treading the right path and fulfilling his supreme duty as a human.
Instead of worrying about the consequences, Mando only focused on doing the right thing. He chose to be and do good, which is not always easy. Just think about this for a few seconds. If walking the path of goodness was easy, everyone would do it. And if going the evil route wasn’t filled with temptations and enticing promises, nobody would do it. But this is not how the world is designed.
Doing good demands you having incredible courage — you have to be fearless and not hesitate from doing what is hard. Moreover, you must resist all the attractive rewards that come your way too that stop you from being an exception. It’s a pretty tough journey that not all can traverse. Therefore, the key question here is: Can you?
In Moral Letters, Seneca wrote, “Good people will do what they find honorable to do, even if it requires hard work; they’ll do it even if it causes them injury; they’ll do it even if it will bring danger. Again, they won’t do what they find base, even if it brings wealth, pleasure, or power. Nothing will deter them from what is honorable, and nothing will lure them into what is base.”
There will be times when you may find yourself faced with a similar choice. Do you follow the rules set by others just to be accepted, or do you follow your conscience? Do you fulfill your own desires and objectives, or do you focus on helping the vulnerable?
It’s in those times, when we must shed the shackles of self and do what we think is right. If it’s right, Marcus Aurelius reminded himself, you have to do it. The rest doesn’t matter.
“To each, there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”
— Winston Churchill
When faced with an extraordinary situation, you must be willing to challenge the status quo, the way things have always been done, the manner in which people have always reacted. Rather than choosing the easy route, you must be willing to choose the path that appeals most to your higher self, the one that is risky, exciting, and traveled by only a few “oddballs.”
As Ryan Holiday puts it, “History is made by those who take risks. Who stand on principle. Who defy expectations and conventional wisdom. The battles are won by those who are willing to go further, to go alone, to do it a way it’s never been done before.”
Don’t be afraid to make the difficult choice and go for it. The exact circumstances don’t matter. What matters is answering the call to courage and doing what needs to be done, in spite of all the challenges and obstacles you might encounter.
Here’s the bottom line: You have to do what you think is right. For yourself, for others, and for the values that you believe in and live by. No matter the situation at hand. No matter the fear of going against the grain. No matter what rewards come your way for abandoning your station. No matter if your own safety and security is threatened.
So, be like Mando, prepare yourself in advance and be willing to answer the call to courage and walk the path of goodness and righteousness when that defining moment comes… when life offers you an opportunity to live your inner truth.
Happy Star Wars Day. May the Force be with you, always!