Maddy at Mont St. Michel 2007
Responsibility in an irresponsible society
By Ken LaRive
In this life there are three major areas in considering responsibility, and if we fail to balance just one of these, all of life can unravel.
First is the immediate world around us, with all of the people we are in contact with. If we are irresponsible, without control or accountability, we are liable if anything goes wrong. For instance, leaving a sharp knife where a child could reach it, not fencing a vicious dog, or dangerous habits in the workplace can be negative. Major point: If we do our best and something goes wrong it may not be entirely our fault, but we are still responsible. This complicated concept is not readily understood or accepted today, but never the less true.
Secondly, we are responsible for all decisions made. Putting off going to the dentist affects us alone, but not fixing bad car brakes may affect another, with greater repercussion. Bringing a butane lighter in our carry-on, throwing a lit cigarette out of our car during a drought, or drinking and driving, have the potential to be devastating.
Morals and ethics should be considered in all responsible decisions, for instance, if you voted for who you considered the lesser of two evils, without looking into what each has stood for in the past, and the one you voted for does something immoral or wrong, you are too. An example might be if you are opposed to abortion because you think it is morally wrong, but you voted for a person who is pro-abortion, from that point on you are also responsible for every abortion performed. A heavy burden? You bet. Why? Because we are responsible not only for what we do, but for those we elect to do our bidding; ignorance or laziness is no excuse.
If you consider your country to be in an immoral war, or backing a country you deem to be recklessly killing innocent people, and you say nothing, do nothing, for whatever reason, you are accountable. Why? It is your tax money and arms doing the actual deed, and so the blood is also on your hands. Unsuccessful trying is considered a responsible act before the fact, but not after, a harsh reality.
Thirdly, you are entirely responsible for self. If you harbor wrong thinking like hate, envy, greed, jealousy, adulterated lust, revenge, selfishness or egotism, and it causes someone else pain or unhappiness, you are to blame. Point: If an irresponsible action supposedly based on love goes wrong, causing a negative reaction, like the head trauma of a child on a birthday bike without a helmet, or not wearing a seatbelt; you are the responsible adult, and accountable.
Responsibility is mostly lost today, or mislaid, by society segments promoting irresponsibility: frivolous law suits, failure justifications promoting all-win and no-loose sports, racist and biased uneven playing fields, redistribution of wealth, or tax structures promoting immorality all take far more from humanity than the original good intent, like liberty, free will, truth, or justice.
The greatest asset to a good and loving life is ones ability to take responsibility as our own. It is the one best possession we have, realized or not, and the greatest tool to distinguish between good and bad, and right and wrong. To learn more about responsibility, study Situational Ethics.