Responsibility! It’s a big word with even bigger implications! It tells you everything you need to know about a person, a family, a group, a company, a government and a society, and as a whole, we haven’t been behaving very responsibly lately!
Look around and you will see all sorts of irresponsible behaviours. Governments are tramping all over human rights, misusing its citizens tax dollars and not holding businesses accountable for providing employment for everyone. Corporations are laying off thousands of workers, while paying their senior executives millions of dollars in bonuses. People are doing all sorts of irresponsible things, hurting themselves, then suing someone else. Parents are bringing children into the world, then abandoning them. We’re all destroying the environment.
It ain’t very pretty, is it?
All too often these days, we abdicate our responsibility by hiding behind loop holes in the law, insurance claims, lawsuits, bureaucracy, ignorance or just plain mis-remembering.
What happened to values and who is responsible for throwing responsibility out with bath water? (Must have been the kids. They’re pretty irresponsible, you know!) We make a choice and when things don’t work out, we blame someone else, rather than taking ownership of it. In doing so, we give away our power!
Has humanity ever behaved responsibly? Well, let’s see. We crucified a guy one time who came here to save us!
What then can we do?
To begin, we could raise responsibility to a much higher standing on our list of values. We could hold people accountable for their behaviour. In particular, we could make governments more responsible. Iceland provides an excellent example of how this is possible. In late 2008 and early 2009, the citizens of Iceland rose up and protested against its government’s mishandling of the economic crisis that was crippling the country. As a result, the government stepped down, a new government was elected and the constitution was rewritten.
This is responsibility! This is power!
Each one of us could look closely within and make a commitment to taking responsibility for ourselves. This would be such an awesome world of we each held ourselves accountable for our attitudes, our words and our behaviours.
Here is a small list of things I’d love to see us do:
- If you’re going to get married and have children, raise them responsibly and teach them responsibility.
- If you’re gonna take a girl out on a date, be polite and get her home safely.
- If you’re gonna pile a bunch of your buddies into your parent’s car, drive safely.
- If you’re gonna drink, don’t drive.
- If you hurt someone, apologize and make amends.
- If you’re gonna raise animals, do so humanely.
- If you’re gonna play professional sports, honour your fans.
- If you get elected to government office, be honest.
- If you’re gonna do something stupid and hurt yourself, don’t file a lawsuit to get easy insurance money.
- If you’re gonna live on this planet, look after it.
There, now I feel better! (If I sound like Rick Mercer or Stephen Colbert, it was purely accidental)
Actually, there’s another, better solution. If we all felt good about ourselves, we would be responsible by default. So let’s make this our priority. Raise our children to feel good about themselves and do everything we can to ensure we are doing our part to feel good about ourselves. Mostly, just be kind!
Then we’ll have an awesome planet of which we can all be proud!
In the meantime, because this latter solution is a long-term one, we can make a choice, in each moment, to take responsibility for everything we do. Taking responsibility, by the way, helps make us feel good about ourselves.
Have an awesomely responsible day!