When some men discharge an obligation, you can hear the report for miles around.

What did Mark Twain mean by:

When some men discharge an obligation, you can hear the report for miles around.


This quote suggests that when some people fulfill a responsibility or repay a debt, they do it in such a way that everyone around them is aware of their actions. Instead of quietly performing their duty, they make a loud and noticeable show of it. The “report” Twain refers to is the noise or announcement of the discharge of the obligation. His use of the word “miles” is a hyperbole, an exaggerated way of saying that these individuals make sure their actions are known far and wide.

This quote essentially speaks to the human tendency to seek recognition and validation for our good deeds. While it’s natural to want acknowledgment for our actions, Twain’s quote emphasizes the importance of humility and discretion. It encourages us to fulfill our responsibilities not for the sake of public praise but because it’s the right thing to do.

In today’s world, this quote is highly relevant. With the advent of social media, many people have the tendency to publicize their good deeds, whether it’s helping the less fortunate, participating in a charity event, or even just doing a simple act of kindness. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, Twain’s quote reminds us to question our motivations. Are we doing good for the sake of doing good, or are we doing it for recognition?

In terms of personal development, this quote can serve as a reminder to cultivate humility. While it’s important to take pride in our accomplishments, it’s equally important to remain grounded and not let praise or recognition become our primary motivation. Instead, we should strive to fulfill our obligations and responsibilities because it’s the right thing to do, not because we want to hear the “report” of our actions for “miles around”.

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