Obligations are things no one forces you to do, but which you have some moral requirement to perform. There can of course be consequences to not fulfilling obligations, but the unique thing about them is that the person who is obligated has total freedom to either perform or neglect to perform what is obligated of them.
Now that the table is set,
People experience different sorts of internal obligations that motivate them to do certain things. Some feel driven to do what they think will relieve poverty, or improve the health and safety of society. But people experience smaller obligations on a day-to-day basis that influence how they interact with other people. Chivalry, for example, drives boys to show respect to women through little acts like opening doors or letting them go first, and most people feel an obligation to say thank you when served food at a dining establishment.
One curious obligation I've imposed on myself is the motivation to go out of my way to give compliments to girls. Not profusely or in any way strangely, but simply more often than I might feel inclined to. I've simply conditioned myself to literally speak my mind, within certain limitations. And here's the reasoning why: my logic is that well-behaved guys might be less likely to be very upfront with personal comments about young women, which is all well and good until you realize that this means that the guys girls are most likely to hear compliments from are jerks, or otherwise unrespectable young men. Since it's in our nature to be grateful to people who are kind to us, my theory is that this is part of the reason that some girls end up with loser boyfriends--because these guys are the only ones she ever hears nice things from. She naturally appreciates their attention, and consequently, is far more likely to find herself in a relationship with such guys than with the guys she probably thinks are "better," but whom she feels ignored by.
My one-man crusade is to stop this. Not because I want to compete, and to get the personal attention of these young women for myself, but because I want to condition them to realize that guys like me do indeed have eyes that can see, a heart that beats red blood, and enough of a suave touch to make them feel excited by the interest and attention I can show them. In my mind, I imagine that I represent the nerdy, socially awkward guys who respect women but can't seem to get their attention. I think that many girls in my age group don't know what they want. If I can help some of them be "awakened" to the realization that a dork like me might actually treat them well then maybe they'll be immunized against the attentions of "bad boys." By simply giving a kind, heartfelt compliment at the end of our conversation, I can turn them on to the idea that inside every (well most) awkward geek(s) is a gentleman and a guy with potential to be a good lover (and I'm not using that in a sexually explicit sense here), then maybe they'll be inspired to wait, rather than settle for what seems like the best option at the time, because they're afraid that if they wait too long the good guys will let them down.
Now it's just a matter of getting the guys on board. I'm busy giving young women I meet the impression that there are other guys like me out there (not to toot my own horn), now I just hope that I haven't misled them. Step up, men! Be gentlemen but be bold! Love is not a passive engagement. You must pursue, for if you don't get her attention, someone else will. And I don't want that to be a bad boy.
I'm sure this'll upset the sexists--er, I mean "feminists." ;)
~ Rak Chazak