Taking Responsibility

For some reason my news feeds have been full of stories on the state of responsibility in our society today.  From our leaders to our heroes, we accept their claims that the loss or problems they are experiencing, are somehow not their fault or responsibility. They repeat the worn out phrase that they are doing their best with what they have to work with.  Aren’t we all? I would refer them to a TED talk by Maysoon Zayid entitled I got 99 problems… palsy is just one of them. Maysoon,  a Muslim Arab-American, was born in New Jersey. An accident at birth resulted in cerebral palsy. Yet this woman, whose parents insisted she could do anything her two older sisters could do, is a philanthropist, actress and comedian. I list them in that order because regardless of what she has to work with, she gives back, she supports herself doing what she loves and she makes light of it.

No doubt you have seen the YouTube video of  Nicholas James Vujicic. Nick was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, characterized as having no limbs.  He is a motivational speaker from Australia who is another example of working with what you’ve got. I don’t mean to make light of either of these people’s accomplishments; I merely want to point out that there is no sense of shirking responsibilities for themselves or what they can give to the world.

Does a person have to be physically or even mentally disabled to overcome the sense of entitlement we face today? Can’t it start with something as simple as courtesy and doing a good job? If you post an advertisement for a job, why are you not personally responsible to remove it when the position is filled or at the very least send a computer generated response to the people who took an hour or so of their time to respond?

Kids bounce back and live with their parents until “they can get their feet under them.” You had feet when you walked out into the world. Use the network of friends you developed out there and take some responsibility for your situation. To the parents I would say, you are responsible for teaching this lesson, no matter how hard it feels to say, “No, you are not destitute or incapable of working. It is time to find out just how strong and resourceful you are.”

Your shopping cart rolls away and slams into a car, do you drive away because it could happen to anyone? Or do you take responsibility for not returning it to the carriage corral?

You misjudge the risk and find yourself stranded on a mountain hiking or skiing, requiring volunteer emergency personnel to rescue you. Does their time and effort for your lack of responsibility lead you to make a donation or do something in kind?

I spent the summer learning about bees and keeping my hive. What struck me about the colony was the innate sense of responsibility these insects have for themselves, the colony and their world overall.

Every day, in small ways, we shirk our basic responsibilities for our lives, our fellow inhabitants and to the world. I don’t make new year’s resolutions on January 1st, but I am tasking myself with this one vow for 2014 starting today. I will take more responsibility.


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