When I started to write about responsibility I really did not realise what a huge area this is to cover. I think I was simply thinking about personal responsibility and what that meant to each individual in their own life. But then of course there is the wider responsibility from self to others and to community and to the world and to humanity in general. So, then I thought to start with irresponsibility and see where that led. So here goes.
I am not talking here about those with genuine needs, those who truly deserve our compassion and help. We, as a society, must retain our compassion for those who deserve it. However, right now it seems that there are many people who think they are entitled to support when they should actually take responsibility for the choices they have made in their lives.
If we can only realise that we create our own lives by the way we live each moment, then we can see that we have a responsibility to live in a way that enhances our lives, being loving towards ourselves and others.
In this way of living there is also a responsibility to be totally honest with ourselves and with all we come in contact with. There is a tendency today to not take responsibility for the truth. In fact, many people feel that politicians and political parties think it is quite acceptable to alter the truth to justify their political agenda. This is clearly not acceptable and if we lose track of what is truthful how can we ever live in a way that is true?
As children we are taught responsibility by our parents. At first little things like washing our hands before eating and doing up our shoelaces. Gradually more and more little things are added to our list of personal responsibilities. Then at school we learn to be responsible in a wider sense, not only to be responsible for ourselves, but in the context of the class and then the school.
As we enter adulthood we learn more responsibilities that we must take on such as finding a place to live and taking on the responsibility of looking after our home. There is also the ultimate responsibility of working for a living to support our self and our family.
These responsibilities are the things that help us to grow as human beings and to become aware of the wider implications of life, of our responsibilities to the wider community, and to humanity in general.
As I grow older I find it hard at times when viewing the state of the world to see what one can do to help humanity and to change the way in which humans seem hell-bent on destroying each other in the most appalling ways.
All we can really do is not give these horrific things any energy. It is no good becoming emotional about them because emotion just adds to the horror. It is our responsibility to remain calm and look at the big picture and not allow things to overwhelm us. There is always a wider, larger picture to see and to understand where we and humanity fit. This is important.
Responsibility, which is just the ability to respond positively to life, needs to be incorporated into every aspect of our lives. As we get up in the morning we can be thankful for being given the grace of another day to live. We can appreciate all the good things that are in our lives and know that we have made them possible. There is no doubt that we are the ones that make our lives. The things we do now will influence what happens to us later – thus the need for ultra-responsibility in how we live.
If we can be loving towards ourselves, and towards our partner and our children, that is a good first step. If we live in a loving way with all those we meet in our daily life, then that will add to their wellbeing and of course to ours. Our loving ways caninfluence others, but only if we truly live that love in all that we do, and in how we move through life too.
It is not easy to suddenly decide to be more loving towards ourselves! This has so often been seen and used in a selfish and narcissistic way. This is not the kind of love I am advocating. The love we give to ourselves should be based on our appreciation of where we have come from, of how we have lived our lives to this point and how we can continue to be more thoughtful and more loving in future.
It is a continuing journey without any end really, as there is always another aspect that appears for us to consider. I have found that this growing and confirming and continuing to look for and find new areas in which one can be more loving and more nurturing just goes on and on. It is an exciting and rewarding experience for all those who are willing to take the journey.
I feel the only way to counteract the irresponsibility that appears to be swamping the world – and part of that appearance is due to the media, because they don’t like to tell any good stories only doom and gloom and horror seems to sell – is by living in a more loving way.
There are many, many people in this world who are living in a loving and caring way, however they don’t get any recognition, or very little, and thus we are overwhelmed by doom and gloom and the appearance of irresponsibility.
Of course, there is always room for improvement in everything human because we are far from perfect. This Earth is a hard task master for many and we have to learn to raise ourselves above what appears to be acceptable to some and say ‘no’to greed, selfishness, inhumanity and lack of compassion. This does not need to be said in a confrontational way, we can simply state that for us it is unacceptable.
There seems to be a strong sense of entitlement among many young people today which is without any responsibility at all – it seems as though they feel either their parents owe them or that society owes them without any effort on their part. This is so contrary to the way I felt when I was young, it seems incomprehensible to me. Once I left home I felt that my parents were no longer responsible for me in any way at all. I did not expect the state or my country to look after me; I took responsibility for myself, for my actions and for my life.
This expectation that everyone else is responsible for one’s life seems to be the ultimate cop-out to me. I know, of course that not all young people think like that, but many do seem to. For this I have no answer except to say that maybe they will have to live many more lives to learn their lessons on what it means to be responsible.
During my life my understanding of responsibility has deepened and widened. Now in my eighties I realise that my responsibility to humanity in general is far greater than I ever thought. I can make a difference to this world simply by being a person who does not buy into the idea of ageing being something one has to put up with. I know now that ageing is a time of great Joy and freedom from the many ideas and expectations that weigh us down when we are younger.
Rowena P., Australia