On Volition and Obligation

May 25, 2008

That deed which is done on account of obligation is never as fulfilling as the deed done out of volition. An act, commenced on account of requirement or duty, is never as rewarding as the same act initiated of one's own free will. Thus not only what is done, but also the spirit with which it is done, determines the satisfaction one has afterward.

For a simple example, consider my sister's dog Honey. If Honey misbehaves, we put her in her crate. In this case, she cries and yells and makes all manner of dreadful cacophony until her sentence is served. However, there are plenty of times that she, of her own accord, walks into her crate. In the latter instances, she sleeps contentedly and seems perfectly happy. It is the same experience for her in either case; but when she chooses it, she enjoys it, and when it is forced upon her, she hates it.

Relationships between humans are no different. When an act is voluntary, then it can be a joyful display of affection. When done out of obligation, then it transforms into an unpleasant chore. No one enjoys required labor, but many enjoy going beyond what is required to bring joy to another. In part this is because the feeling of doing what is required is never as good as the feeling of doing what is chosen. This is also because one receives that which is required with a less grateful heart than one receives that which is given as a voluntary gift.