Ought vs. Should

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There are ‘oughts‘ in life, things we do because of our character, out of moral obligation.  Then there are the ‘shoulds', tasks that imply duty, which is sometimes the case, but quite often are self-imposed, and involve no moral imperative.

There is a difference.

Yet if I observe the language I use to describe the choices I make, I frequently conflate the two words, believing my self-imposed ‘shoulds' are ‘oughts'.  It is a simpler way to view the world.  When everything is an obligation, I don't have to make decisions.  I can just be an automaton that does.  However, if we really want to grow up, we ‘ought' to learn to choose, and then own our choices.

A few months ago, I urged us to decide to dare.

Shall we now dare to decide?


If you listen to your use of words such as ought, should, must — what will you find? 

As you make decisions simply because you choose, how does that feel?  A little scarier perhaps, but good?

P.S.  Thank you to my 10th-grade social studies teacher Mr. Carson who taught me to appreciate satirical cartoons, and a hat tip to Kristiina Sorensen for sending this along.

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