© 2019 Bill Murphy
I’ve written before on the heavy topic of responsibility. It’s a subject that often pops up in my extended family. As for myself, I’ve been officially retired for six years, and yet I’m still faced with responsibilities on a daily basis. Obviously, they never end.
Responsibilities are much like anchovies and black olives: you have the option to choose or reject them. (I love anchovies, but detest black olives.)
Yes, one can reject a responsibility. Folks do it all the time. That’s not saying that’s a healthy thing to do, but it is an option. The truth of this is in the expression ‘accepting one’s responsibilities.’ To accept involves a conscious, voluntary action. The opposite of acceptance is rejection. Both of these require a value judgement on our part… we weigh the options, and make our choice.
I didn’t say that we study the options. Decisions are often made with little or no thought as to the outcome of those decisions. We speak, act, or shoot — and then think. Oops!
Responsibilities are very personal and unique to the individual. I may or may not have a similar responsibility confronting me that is confronting you. But, by the same token, we share many responsibilities. Yet even within a shared responsibility, the portion of that responsibility which affects us directly is ours alone to accept or reject. We’re responsible for our personal portion.
What we often fail to consider is the simple fact that the decisions we make concerning our personal responsibilities usually always affect others around us… those close to us, like family, as well as those not as close to us, as in those friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens of the world in which we live. It is true: no man is an island.
So what’s the answer to this dilemma? How do we, the accepters of responsibility, convince the rejectors of responsibility to get with the program?
Simple education is a good place to start. Learn from the railroad. All railroad wheels have flanges, extensions to the inside of the wheels. These flanges extend downward to fit in-between the rails, thus keeping the train on the track. Without these flanges, no train could ever make a turn, or even stay on the track going in a straight line. Wheel flanges are a necessity. The railroad has no choice in the matter.
When I was a child, it was said that schools taught the three R’s: reading, riting and ‘rithmatic. I suggest adding a fouth: RESPONSIBILITY.
I also suggest teaching that responsibilities are linked to CONSEQUENCES. Perhaps the word ‘link’ is incorrect. Perhaps ‘chained’ would be better.
Just as railroads would fail without the use of wheel flanges, students fail in school when they choose not to pay attention in class, not to do their homework, and not to study for tests.
Employees: only do what is absolutely necessary on the job, then never expect a promotion. Fail to pay your rent or house note and you’ll receive a boot out the door. Spend all your money only on what you want, and you’ll not have money for what you need. If you don’t eat, then expect to starve. It’s all simple 1 + 1 = 2 math.
As for responsibilities, they’re necessary for all of us. They are the light which illuminate our paths in life. And sometimes they are the barriers which protect us from danger. Responsibilities allow us to navigate through a successful, fruitful, and meaningful life-experience. Accepting those responsibilities are vital. They keep us on track. They keep us safe. They keep us happy. Own them, your they are yours!
We may not always see them as friends, but they are.