Onion Skin #2: The Call of Duty

In the previous blog, I peeled off the first layer of onion skin in order to uncover my position on non-violence and how it originated from my life experiences, as well as, my interpretation of historical events. But, this perspective is founded on a latticework of values, one of them being “duty”. Values are not innate instead, one’s value system and sense of self is developed and maintained over time through three invaluable tenets: life experiences, socialization or one’s upbringing. I have already demonstrated how life experiences influenced my sense of duty in becoming a UN Peacekeeper. The next layer of onion skin titled, “The Call of Duty” will be an attempt to describe the socialization process that has brought me to Haiti.

During my travels across the deserts of the Middle East and Europe’s historical cities, my inexplicable sense of “duty” began to rise from within. It truly surfaced during the flight back to Montreal as I was documenting my thoughts, experiences and emotions. I wrote that I had personally discovered on the journey how wonderful Canada was at the turn of the 21st century; great opportunities and very well respected around the world. As I traveled, my passport and I were greeted with nothing less than the utmost respect for this country and its citizens. Unfortunately, I also noticed that the underlying fabric that made Canadians stand out in the world was being dyed a different tone. As a consequence, a Canadian identity began to be formed within me but I was incapable to entirely define it.

Upon my arrival in Montreal, I began to gravitate towards the embracement of José Martí’s – one of Latin America’s most important writers – famous quotes, “A real man does not look to see on which side one lives best, but on which side lies duty”. I decided to execute this sense of “duty” in all facets of my life. It would be my personal attempt to “walk the path”; to live and to breathe it while adhering to a sense of common values that would bond all facets of my life together. As Ganhdi put it, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him … We need not wait to see what others do.” The sense of duty that fell upon me would become a ”Call of Duty” via a strict treading of a socialization process. Let me explain.

Socialization is the process in which children and adults learn from one another. According to a Sociology professor from the University of South Carolina Beaufort,

          “Our prior socialization helps explain a gigantic chunk of who we are at present — what we think and feel, where we plan to go in life. But we are not limited by the things given to us by our prior social learning experiences; we can take all our remaining days and steer our future social learning in directions that we value. The more that we know about the socialization process, the more effective we can be in directing our future learning in the ways that will help us most.”

Because we are unable to select our parents, we have very little control over the first 10 to 20 years of our socialization. Most people learn to influence their own socialization through life experiences. I, therefore, established a path” to help me understand which skills were most effective in influencing my socialization process toward the goals I most valued. That “path” was my “Call of Duty”.

As the three stars of Orion’s Belt were used as a navigational aid for explorers on their “paths” across the seas, I chose to follow a socialization process that encapsulated the following three values to keep me steadfast on my “Call of Duty”: Integrity, Excellence and Service.

The value known as integrity (or honour in some organization) does not guarantee that the decisions that I would take were the ‘right’ decisions but it spoke to a self-identity as I committed to a moral life over self-interest. Once the value had been internalized, integrity manifested itself as the motivation for me to act consistently with my principles compared to those who did not do so and knew otherwise.

On my set path” towards influencing my socialization toward my professional expressions of integrity, I was sworn into the Canadian Forces as an Infantry Officer for the francophone Army Reserve regiment, Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal. At the same time as the commencement of my military profession, I launched my civilian profession as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) while working as an external auditor for the international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

As an auditor, one’s duty is to be objective beyond question and to not only act independently but to also preserve the perception of incorruptibility with one’s actions and intentions. I chose to be a CPA for its notoriety as a trusted professional, known for technical excellence, integrity, objectivity with a professional duty and service to the public interest. Coincidently, I chose to serve my country as an Officer of the Canadian Forces by adhering to its creed of honour and service, as well as, the values, beliefs, and expectations that reflect core military values of duty, loyalty, integrity and courage. Such premeditated professional decisions not only demonstrated the interrelation between my personal values and those values attributed to my military and civilian professions but, most importantly, a reflection of our core values as Canadians.

To recapitulate, I have shown how my “Call of Duty” in becoming a UN Peacekeeper was born from life experiences throughout mostly my twenties and its historical contexts. I have then illustrated how this “Call of Duty” was inculcated in the daily expressions of a set socialization process that included the following values: Integrity, Excellence and Service. I further explained how I chose professions that reflected my sense of integrity in order to mirror these set values. The next layer of onion skin will be titled, “The Spiritual Warrior” where my manifestations of excellence and service will be unveiled and expanded upon.

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