Saturday, October 18, 2008


What is your principle on responsibility. And how does that play out in your life?

I had time to think about this during a boring concert I went to last night and came up with a simple principle: I am responsible for myself, for my actions, my desires, dreams, needs etc. How does this play out in my life? I have come to accept that my influence over what other people do, think and feel is VERY limited. An example - this morning, I told my husband that I would like it if he bought some new t-shirts as his old ones are worn and tent-shaped. I can express this as a wish, but I know that that wish might not be fulfilled because that kind of stuff is not that important to him. Which is fine. So what I'm saying is: he's responsible for how his clothes looks, and I'm responsible for dealing with the fact that he looks less beautiful to me in shabby clothes. Also, as a parent, I am responsible for doing everything so that my daughter can become a responsible adult herself.

Where does the principle of responsibility come from? Does it come from religious beliefs? As an offshoot from philosophical principles like “the golden rule? Does it rise out of fear? Is it a requirement of being human?

In my case, being responsible comes from having been raised by responsible parents, and by my own bad experiences with being irresponsible. I'm an atheist, so there is no religious background to this. It has just turned out to be the best way to live for me. Is it a requirement of being human? No, lots of people act irresponsibly some or all of the time (myself included!). Being human is being fallible is being irresponsible. Being responsible, to me at least, is a requirement for what I would call nice to be around.

What is something you learned from being irresponsible?

That it leads to all kinds of trouble:
  • pregnancy scare trouble
  • hangover trouble
  • regret/disappointment trouble
  • money trouble
  • end of relationship/loss of friendship trouble
That this is not the kind of trouble I like to be around any more. Mostly, I succeed.

What is an example in the world today in which you, or someone greater than you needs to take more responsibility?

There are lots of examples: people with high blood pressure need to exercise more. People who drive everywhere need to think about the impact that has on the environment. Parents need to think about how it will affect their children if they act irresponsibly.
Personally - without going into too many details - I should accept my share of the responsibility I have for my sometimes difficult relationships with other people (my mother, my mother in law) instead of being lazy and just letting things happen. In sum, I think that becoming more responsible for ourselves and the effect our actions have would be a good point to start.

Is everyone in the world “responsible” for everyone else in the world? Is a country responsible for something greater than their country?

No, of course we are not all responsible for each other. How could we be? Like I said, I think that it's difficult enough to be responsible for ourselves. Of course, a government is not an individual: by its nature, it is responsible for many people - that's what is has been elected for: to carry out tasks that an individual can't; the vote delegates responsibility. I would agree with what the questions seems to suggest: that US foreign policy has on several occasions called actions "responsible" that were in fact mostly self-serving.

No comments: