“The chicken participates in the making of breakfast, the pig is committed.” (unknown)
In this day and age, do we understand commitment?
a : an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; especially : an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future date b : something pledged c : the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled commitment to a cause> (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/commitment. Accessed 6/1/12)
Contracts and agreements often provide for the responsibilities and conditions of all those signing the document. Specify details from beginning to end are included. The severance and discontinuation of obligations are determined by time period, fulfillment (completion) of a project or work and breach, failure to follow the stipulations by any parties to the deal.
Oaths, pledges and vows are commitments which rarely, if ever, provide a severance clause. There are no terms for termination. You find no reciprocal agreement or conditions on any other party. The onus is on the oath taker.
“On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people at all times, and to obey the Scout Law; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” (Boy Scout Oath)
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” (Pledge of Allegiance)
“I take thee, [name], as a gift from God, to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for richer or poorer, in good times and bad, for better or for worse, and in sickness and health, to love, honor and cherish, forsaking all others as long as we shall live.” (I didn’t have to look this up.)
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” (Constitution of the United States, Oath or Affirmation of the Office of the President)
“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
Failure to keep the commitment does not provide relief from the duty. It means there was a lapse. Nothing less than a re-institution and probably, if possible, restitution should occur. There is no clause of closure.
It is unrealistic to keep oaths, pledges and vows.
There is a likelihood that commitments are broken. This can be difficult to prove. Truth and honesty provide the answer though we are dependent on a commitment to truth and honesty for truth and honesty. I would boast of a 100% fulfillment of every promise I have made yet I have stumbled. Here is an example of how we might salvage a stumble as presented by Hold On Baby, We Are Almost Somewhere in “He Doesn’t Stumble Often But When He Does He Makes a Nice Recovery.”
Commitment to oaths, pledges and vows is not usually easy or fully informed as it is about the future. Predicting the future might solve the ambiguity. Commitment is a promise of self, a yielding of rights, and it is open ended. Everyone seems to want to stand on their rights to a commitment by them, and yet so few relinquish their rights making commitment. Self is subdued by the vow so we avoid or cheapen the pledge.
Pledges, oaths and vows are just words.
Words are powerful. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is one of the great lies of all time. Words are used to praise and insult. Intimacy is revealed by sharing your name in some societies where a nick-name may infer familiarity in another. There are cultures where knowing the name of your enemy provides you advantage. The name of a deity can be revered to the point of silence where it might be spoken. It is written that God said, “Let there be…” and it was.
We find that songs in habit our thoughts. Poems, stories and fables pass along lessons of history, values and mores. Concepts and ideas are likely expressed in words, even to ourselves. Words (language) are a potential key to the difference between humans and other animals.
More than a decade ago I nearly abandon my family. In the crowd of many well-wishers affirming that, “You got to do what makes you happy,” one friend stood out. He called me to the moment of my vows. He was there. He was deliberate, not subtle or brazen, and he did not allow me to avoid facing the promise I had made, the words I said. I would have missed being with my best friend, my wife. This could have been more than a stumble; I nearly fell. Words brought me back to the commitment; thankfully, my wife stood firm in hers.
Words hurt. Words heal. Words define and refine. Words are powerful.
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” (Declaration of Independence)
What is your commitment to oaths, pledges and vows? What holds it together? What forces it apart?
- Red Skelton’s Pledge of Allegiance
- US Supreme Court: ‘law’ repugnant to the Constitution is void (examiner.com)
- You know, I swore an oath that I still honor today and take seriously – why am I a radical? (erickbrockway.com)
- Call It Propaganda But This Is Why Americans Die For The US Every Day (businessinsider.com)
- The Chicken and the Pig: Lessons in Commitment (barrypopik.com)