We normally think of commitment as a good thing. Of course, it depends on the object of one’s commitment. If I’m committed to doing harm to others, that’s a bad thing. If I’m committed only to what gives me pleasure in the moment with no thought of others or long-term consequences, that’s also a bad thing. So commitment by itself does not guarantee an honorable outcome.
The exchange of wedding vows I witnessed today between a long-time family friend and his bride are an example of an honorable commitment. In a time and culture where too many take too lightly the seriousness and the institution of marriage, where so many want the benefits of marriage without the legal or personal obligations that accompany it, it is nice to see young people (or those of any age) make the decision to choose a path of legal commitment to one other person for life. Other arrangements are easy ways to keep an exit door readily available should feelings change and the grass suddenly look greener elsewhere.
Still, even an honorable commitment is no guarantee of following through to completion. For example, on a much smaller scale, how many people commit to a variety of New Years resolutions, only to abandon them within a few days, weeks or months? How many commit to new jobs or goals or even relationships, only to change those commitments when something shinier comes along or if the going gets tough?
That is not to say that no commitments should ever change. It is to say that a mental decision to go down some significant path must be accompanied by a quality of character that continually drives the person down that chosen path regardless of the difficulties faced or the temptations to do otherwise. Without that, the original “commitment” is really just more of a temporary plan until something more attractive comes along.
So commitment is nice, but only if to the right actions, ideas, principles, goals or people. And then it is only maintained if accompanied by a person of character to see it through.
Leap year lesson #84 is Commitment is good, but it isn’t enough.