Monday, July 27, 2009
The End of Responsibility?
“If everyone cleaned their own doorstep, we’d have a clean world” - Goethe Where does your responsibility end? Have you ever considered the limits you place on being responsible for what is happening right around you every day of their lives? I think every person’s dignity demands that he or she contribute to the freedom and dignity of others. Without getting into a heady philosophical discussion about moral agency and or pinning all responsibility on a divine entity, consider your own reality for a change. Responsibility demands that you place a particular burden of obligation upon yourself that includes the obligations to be reliable and dependable. Journalist Gerald Johnson once said, "No man was ever endowed with a right without being at the same time saddled with a responsibility." Responsibility makes you accountable for your actions and encourages you to live an honorable life. If a burden becomes detachable, it is easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one's neighbor. You simply deny it. TYPES OF RESPONSIBILITY 1. Moral Responsibility By caring, protecting, and helping, you're being accountable for treating other people justly and fairly, for honoring other living things, and for being environmentally aware. 2. Legal Responsibility By obeying laws and ordinances of your community, state, and country, you live within the accepted rules of a society. If there's a law you believe is outdated, discriminatory, or unfair, you can work to change, improve, or eliminate it. 3. Family Responsibility When you treat your parents, siblings, and other relatives with love and respect, you show your responsibility to family. This could include following your family's rules, and doing chores and duties at home. 4. Community Responsibility As a part of the community, you're responsible for treating others as you want to be treated, for participating in community activities and decisions, and for being an active, contributing citizen. 5. Responsibility to Customs, Traditions, Beliefs, and Rules These responsibilities might come from your family, your community, your heritage, or your faith. 6. Personal Responsibility It's up to you to become a person of good character. Ultimately, no one else is to blame for your shortcomings. ACCEPTING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY Failing to accept personal responsibility results in negative consequences. This can make you fearful about taking a risk, overly dependent on others for recognition, unable to trust or security with others, and chronically hostile at the way others treat you. James J Messina, PhD, cites the following as things that must be done to accept personal responsibity: 1. Acknowledging that you are solely responsible for the choices in your life. 2. Realizing that you determine your feelings about any events or actions addressed to you, no matter how negative they seem. 3. Recognizing that as you enter adulthood and maturity, you determine how your self-esteem will develop. 4. Not feeling sorry for the "bum deal" you have been handed but taking hold of your life and giving it direction and reason. 5. Letting go of your sense of over responsibility for others. 6. Taking an honest inventory of your strengths, abilities, talents, virtues and positive points. 7. Letting go of blame and anger toward those in your past who did the best they could, given the limitations of their knowledge, background and awareness. 8. Pointing the finger of responsibility back to yourself and away from others when you are discussing the consequences of your actions. Where then, ideally, does your responsibility end? That depends upon the type of person you want to become. No one can control fateful circumstances; however, the devout, dutiful, responsible people will overextend themselves to carry necessary burdens when others won't. Maybe they are not bound to accept all of these obligations, but they sense duty when others choose to ignore it. Pearl Buck once called duty "the other side of rights." Another writer said that duty is "what is expected from others." Duty provides you with liberty. After all, you are a part of the problem and a part of the solution. No person can exist as an island of pure self interest. And, in turn, no person can successfully deny blame by pushing the problem away. The irresponsible believe one person cannot make a difference. This excuse infects the "finger pointers" and the "I told you so's." Before long, a Blame Game Epidemic results as thousands (millions) find an easy scapegoat. Your responsibility must sense no end, only adjust itself to any given situation in which you find yourself. As you breathe, speak, and walk through numbered days, you present your true self, and not a front for others, that encourages everyone you meet to be responsible. Surely, success will follow. God has entrusted you with yourself. Slackers will always be a part of society. Do you complain continually about them or do you find yourself doing your share to correct this as one of your own concerns? A good unattributed quote to remember: "I must do something" always solves more problems than "Something must be done."