Duty comes in many forms; at times duty to country may conflict with duty to family. Yet, with a lucid mind the guises can be torn away and in the end, duty becomes but one, and that duty is to value justice above everything-to do what is right not because someone ordains it, but because the heart which is the seat of truth decrees it so.
We are humanity, Kant says. Humanity needs us because we are it. Kant believes in duty and considers remaining alive a primary human duty. For him one is not permitted to 'renounce his personality, ' and while he states living as a duty, it also conveys a kind of freedom: we are not burdened with the obligation of judging whether our personality is worth maintaining, whether our life is worth living. Because living it is a duty, we are performing a good moral act just by persevering.
In its basic form, nursing can be seen as a duty, but beyond the incessant operational activities that lay the foundation of our daily work, the profession is all about grace. Helping people is a noble calling. It is a privilege to serve my fellow human beings. Fifteen years has seen many ups and downs at the workplace, but I have enjoyed serving the many patients who come into my care, and have prayed for the souls of those who were on the brink of death.
In times of widespread chaos and confusion, it has been the duty of more advanced human beings-artists, scientists, clowns and philosophers-to create order. In times such as ours, however, when there is too much order, too much management, too much programming and control, it becomes the duty of superior men and women to fling their favorite monkey wrenches into the machinery. To relive the repression of the human spirit, they must sow doubt and disruption.
Another basic characteristic of liberalism which constitutes a formidable obstacle to an oppressed group's liberation is its conception of human nature. If selfishness, aggressiveness, the drive to conquer and dominate, really are among defining human traits, as every liberal philosopher since Locke tries to convince us, the oppression in civil society-i.e. in the social sphere not regulated by the state-is a fact of life, and the basic civil relationship between a man and a women will always remain a battlefield. Woman, being less aggressive, is then either the less human of the two and doomed to subjugation, or else she must get more power-hungry herself and try to dominate man. Liberation for both is not feasible.
Finally, let me share a feeling of mine, I hope it will not be misinterpreted as pride. I am seventy four now. But still, if they give me a duty in the wooden hut where I used to stay when I was a mentor long years ago, I will gladly run there and try to fulfill that duty. Perhaps, some of our friends can see that task as a simple and trivial one. But I have not underestimated this duty and would never do so. Even today, some people may consider our having lessons with the small circle of young scholars here as a simple and trivial job. However, in my opinion, this is the most important occupation that can take human to the highest levels.
When I speak about love and compassion, I do so not as a Buddhist, nor as a Tibetan, nor as the Dalai Lama. I do so as one human being speaking with another. I hope that you at this moment will think of yourself as a human being rather than as an American, Asian, European, African, or member of any particular country. These loyalties are secondary. If you and I find common ground as human beings, we will communicate on a basic level.