Offhand Truths Of Staggering Import Dept.

     I stumbled over this in Weird Dave’s Friday Night ONT:

     I don’t think men in general get complimented enough, and I think men and women react differently to compliments.

     Well, yeah. But remember, Gentle Readers: obvious really means overlooked. And as the late, great Ron Popeil liked to say: But wait: there’s more!

     Among the reasons men are under-complimented is one that’s self-imposed: we generally react as if we’re embarrassed to be noticed. “Just doing my job, Ma’am” is about the least dismissive of men’s typical responses to a compliment. But that’s not because we’re genuinely embarrassed to be appreciated. It’s just the way we’ve been trained. A gruff “aww, ‘twarn’t nuthin’” or the like is what we’ve been taught to say.

     A great part of this arises from a concept that’s fallen on hard times in recent years: duty. Time was, we had it beaten into us with a broom handle that:

  1. You will do your duty: as a man, a husband, a father, and a citizen.
  2. Don’t expect a round of applause for it!

     That was and is a core tenet of Western masculinity. That it’s no longer hammered into American boys before they sprout their first whiskers explains a great deal about the steady deterioration of our culture.


     Duty is one of the truly fundamental terms of our lexicon. No one can give a perfect rational defense of the imperative You will do your duty. It arises from what C. S. Lewis, in his magnificent essay The Abolition of Man, called the Tao:

     The Chinese also speak of a great thing (the greatest thing) called the Tao. It is the reality beyond all predicates, the abyss that was before the Creator Himself. It is Nature, it is the Way, the Road. It is the Way in which the universe goes on, the Way in which things everlastingly emerge, stilly and tranquilly, into space and time. It is also the Way which every man should tread in imitation of that cosmic and supercosmic progression, conforming all activities to that great exemplar. ‘In ritual’, say the Analects, ‘it is harmony with Nature that is prized.’ The ancient Jews likewise praise the Law as being ‘true.’
     This conception in all its forms, Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Christian, and Oriental alike, I shall henceforth refer to for brevity simply as ‘the Tao’. Some of the accounts of it which I have quoted will seem, perhaps, to many of you merely quaint or even magical. But what is common to them all is something we cannot neglect. It is the doctrine of objective value, the belief that certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are. Those who know the Tao can hold that to call children delightful or old men venerable is not simply to record a psychological fact about our own parental or filial emotions at the moment, but to recognize a quality which demands a certain response from us whether we make it or not. I myself do not enjoy the society of small children: because I speak from within the Tao I recognize this as a defect in myself—just as a man may have to recognize that he is tone deaf or colour blind. And because our approvals and disapprovals are thus recognitions of objective value or responses to an objective order, therefore emotional states can be in harmony with reason (when we feel liking for what ought to be approved) or out of harmony with reason (when we perceive that liking is due but cannot feel it). No emotion is, in itself, a judgement; in that sense all emotions and sentiments are alogical. But they can be reasonable or unreasonable as they conform to Reason or fail to conform. The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it.

     If duty is to be understood, it must be recognized as a component of the Tao that has relevance specifically to men. Contemporary ideologists are at war with this conception of duty; rather, they insist that if duty truly exists, it must be derived from axioms they dictate. But this is to put the dictates of men above those of the Tao. Lewis goes on to say:

     What purport to be new systems or (as they now call them) ‘ideologies’, all consist of fragments from the Tao itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao and to it alone such validity as they possess. If my duty to my parents is a superstition, then so is my duty to posterity. If justice is a superstition, then so is my duty to my country or my race. If the pursuit of scientific knowledge is a real value, then so is conjugal fidelity. The rebellion of new ideologies against the Tao is a rebellion of the branches against the tree: if the rebels could succeed they would find that they had destroyed themselves. The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour, or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.

     Ironically, another writer I admire, the late Robert A. Heinlein, with whom I agree on so much that it would be far shorter to list the exceptions, got this exactly backwards:

     The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of “loyalty” and “duty”. Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute, get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed.

     But the acceptance of the imperative nature of duty is not an intellectual achievement; it is a recognition of a fundamental component of the Tao. You cannot reason your way to it. You can only project the consequences of abandoning it…which are, as Heinlein indicates, catastrophic and irreparable.

     Cassie Jaye’s remarkable and courageous documentary film The Red Pill sketches some of the consequences of the contemporary denigration of men by women. This contempt for the traditional masculine virtues is coextensive with the denigration of duty. I heartily recommend this film to all my Gentle Readers – especially the female ones.

     Ultimately, Assertion #2 below:

  1. You will do your duty: as a man, a husband, a father, and a citizen.
  2. Don’t expect a round of applause for it!

     …arises from the nature of duty itself. He who “gets” the one won’t need the other explained to him. Tragically, that verges on making compliments for doing what one should do seem unnecessary or excessive. They are not. Men need to be appreciated for their fidelity to their duties. Perhaps such appreciation is best expressed non-verbally, but it must be expressed. If it is too seldom expressed, there will be a diminution in men’s adherence to their duties. “No one cares, so why should I?” Try it out on yourself, Gentle Readers – especially the female ones.


     This rant may seem rantier than most of my rants. I do feel strongly about it. I wish others felt as strongly about it as I. Where Lewis says “You cannot hold a pistol to the head of the Tao,” and Heinlein says that a society without duty and loyalty is doomed, I say merely: Look around you.

     The great English architect Sir Christopher Wren chose as his epitaph a brief but compelling Latin phrase:

Si Monumentum Requiris, Circumspice.

     By that, he meant Saint Paul’s Cathedral where he’s buried. (He also designed many other churches in London.) In keeping with Wren’s insight, I would say:

The monument to duty would be
The beauty of our civilization at its peak.
The monument to the decline of duty
Will be found in its rubble.


    • Lon Spector on May 7, 2022 at 7:21 AM

    But I thought there was no difference between the genders.

    Women need no favors-except when they are in danger, than it’s

    “Evacuate women and children.”

    One the one hand, they are “the stronger sex.” On the other hand, they are the

    “fairest.” Which is it?

    • Unclezip on May 7, 2022 at 9:37 PM

    Duty is that which one accepts upon himself – not what is expected or put upon him.

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