Shades of grey

When I was young I used to love a quote from Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love:

Excess in everything, moderation is for monks.

The world was quite black and white for me (and many others, young in age, heart, or something else, I claim nothing special in this). One of the hardest lessons I’ve ever learned is about shades of grey, and the reality of said shades.

So in my recent posts about change, I know that I see change in shades of grey. I would also bet a non-trivial amount that my shades of grey are not yours. I try and embrace change, in my science and my life (more about this when the dust settles). I work to make change (at NIH, in my university) but I’m probably not doing as much as others might want or think or whatever.

Which brings me to another Heinlein quote (which I found when checking the accuracy of the one above).

Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.

A more general version is – do not let Them guilt you into doing things (like service). What you “owe” your department, your university, your mentor, your parents is something you need to decide for yourself. You may damn well make the wrong decision, but it is your decision to make.

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3 thoughts on “Shades of grey

  1. Pingback: Grant writing advice: grey, grey, grey or green, green, green | Mistress of the Animals

  2. Pingback: Repost: Grant writing advice: grey, grey, grey or green, green, green | Mistress of the Animals

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