COMMITMENT: Do We Take Our Collective Responsibility To Society Seriously?


By Dr. J. Das

People talk about commitment, but often they fail to realize the power of commitment. Without commitment, society cannot function properly. Commitment really means the acceptance and fulfillment of obligations, and it is a fundamental virtue which all of us need to develop. All of us have commitment towards family, society, religion, work, ideals, etc. Different people may have different commitments, which they need to fulfill. Very often people make commitments, but do not take themselves seriously and end up by not fulfilling those commitments. This is really unfortunate, because commitments really mean promises made, and not fulfilling the commitments mean promises broken. Yet, we all know that we need to keep our promises. If they are not kept then, they become liars.

Let us consider the power of commitment in an individual’s life. First we will deal with the positive aspects of commitment. The person, who makes a commitment and fulfills it, has the following attributes: (1) He is a doer; (2) He is disciplined; (3) He is reliable and dependable, and can be trusted; (4) He accomplishes; (5) He derives satisfaction; (6) He benefits others by fulfilling his commitments; (7) He has a clear conscience by meeting his obligations; (8) He promotes self-growth, inner strength and self esteem;  (9) He is a good character; (10) Commitment is the essence of spiritual growth.

On the negative side, the person, who makes the commitment and does not follow through, has the following characteristics: (l) He is a talker and not a doer; (2) He is undisciplined, in mind and behavior; (3) He is unreliable and untrustworthy; (4) He pays lip service; (5) He lets people down; (6) He is subject to guilt and remorse; (7) He loses friends; (8) He loses self-esteem; (9) He retards his own spiritual growth and esteem; (10) others demean His character.

Every aspect of life requires commitments. Without it, society cannot function properly. We lose trust in people who do not fulfill their obligations, which they have promised to fulfill. We brand them as unreliable, as people only paying lip service, or as being talkers and not doers. We tend to develop a distance between such people and ourselves.

But, by not wanting to be impolite, we hold back our true opinions of them. They, in turn, wander why others are not being friendly or receptive. Commitment means to live an honorable life, and all promises of doing things must be fulfilled. It is an ancient custom that promises made must be fulfilled. When promises are not fulfilled other people suffer the consequences for they are let down, sometimes at the most crucial moments. Such is not the way in which society can function properly.

When we are dealing with spiritual matters, commitment takes on a greater dimension. Spiritual life is based on truth, honesty, love, etc. If we are motivated by these virtues then we must, of necessity, fulfill our commitments. If we make a commitment to God and then flout that commitment, how can be expect God to look on us favourably. On the mundane level, if we flout our commitments made to others then, how we expect them to look favourably on us?  Human beings are spiritual beings and it is not proper for them to let themselves down, either consciously or through carelessness. Commitment requires us to examine how others will feel, or what they will suffer, if we do not fulfill our commitment to them. We must develop empathy and an understanding towards others. If we do not do these things, then we are not living up truly to our human potential.

Let us, by all means, make our commitments, but let us not forget to fulfill those commitments.

Dr. J. Das is the President: Global Clergy Association and Member of Surrey Interfaith Council. He can be reached at [email protected].