Life in the Fish Bowl


Personal Responsibility: What Is It? And Do You Have Any?

What is personal responsibility? Huh? What did you say? ~crickets chirping~

Well, what is it? I guess first of all you want to know why I'm asking. A friend of mine is shopping for a new car. For multiple reasons, of course, but one thing/thought leads to the next, leads to a conversation with someone else, on, and on and it just got me thinking. What is it?

I actually did a google search for the definition of personal responsibility. Some definitions I agreed with, some I didn't. I think for me personal responsibility is the feeling that there is something out there bigger than me and that I owe it something, some effort on my part, to make it better. I'm not talking religion here, though I guess in a way it sounds similar. I'm not even talking about success, just effort.

I'm but one person in a big world. But I truly believe one person can make a difference. Whether that be directly through my own actions, or indirectly through my influence on someone else, I firmly and absolutely believe it. Not that I'm selfless or by any means a crusader or anything. I often tend to be a bit self centered. Don't let me fool you. But opinions? I have them - oh do I ever have them - and they shape what I see as my personal responsibility.

Who are these responsibilities to? My family. My friends. My community. The world at large. The environment. You name it. Seems I've tagged myself with a shitload of responsibility! Yet, I do believe it is something I am responsible for.

I think that people often absolve themselves of their responsibilities for what they see as perfectly rational reasons. They are only one person. They aren't rich or powerful. No one would listen to them. And you know what? All of that may be true. But does the fact that your actions, however well intended, may amount to nil, resolve you of your responsibilities? I don't think so.

What do I feel responsible for today? Let's see.
  • the environment. It's pretty much going to shit, right? What difference would it make if I drove a Hummer? I'm just one person, after all. But with the state of things in the world I just feel that for me - for myself - this is where I'm held responsible. I don't drive a Prius or ride a bicycle to the grocery store, but I do try to be environmentally responsible when I can. I drive a car with decent fuel mileage. I just spent Punkins college fund on a new central AC with out freon. I did use disposable diapers and I buy plastic cups. But damn it, I'm trying. I'm trying to have a positive impact where I can.
  • other people. Ok, I know I can't really be responsible for other people, but I can use my voice, no matter how small, to state what I believe in and to reject injustice and unfairness when I see it. I strongly believe that when you keep silent about an injustice you are just as complicit in it as those who are its most vocal perpetrators. Speak up people. YOU can make a difference. And even if you don't think you can? Speak up anyway! You just might be surprised.
  • myself. How many people don't seem to take responsibility for themselves? I wish I had a dime for every one of them. They seem oblivious to their impact on those around them: their friends, family, children. They are oblivious to their impact on the environment. They are oblivious to their impact on themselves. They create a hostile or unpleasant environment for themselves and then whine/bitch/cry about such environment. Come on, people. To a great extent you determine your own path. Take charge of it. Be responsible. Own it and deal with it. YOU are responsible for YOU! And if that means getting some kick ass happy pills to help you on your way? Go for it! I believe that no one can MAKE me happy, or MAKE me sad or MAKE me complete. Those feelings come from within me and I alone retain ultimate responsibility for myself. I'm a work in progress....but I'm happy with how it's going so far.

I could go on and on. You never would have guessed that, would you?

I know the trolls have been out in full force lately and this post may just draw them to my little corner of the blogosphere. Bring it on. I don't know what brought this rant on - maybe to run off my last ten commenters?? hehe I accept the responsibility for it though.

So do you accept that you have a personal responsibility to yourself and others? How do you express that belief? Do you figure you won't have an impact and just say screw it? Do you feel like you've tried and failed? Have you just give up? Talk to me people.

Talk to me or I'll start begging for recipes again........

7 comments: said...

You've been asking for recipes? Just kidding, toots. I cannot wait til you are full steam ahead again. We need a good gchat.

Mommapeas said...

Great post. I absolutely state my opinion if I have one. If I'm still trying to figure it out, I try to wait. I've figured out lately that I can gain so much by shutting up and turning on my ears.

Jennifer said...

Are we talking personal responsibility or a social conscience? I definitely think we are all called to be good stewards of the environment to the best of our ability, but within reasonable limits. I drive an SUV, but I have a large family, a family in which the members need lots of space between them on long car trips. But it's paid for, so I am hanging on to it for the moment. I do what I can, but is it ever enough? I wonder. As far as being personally responsible, I definitely don't need the government to tell me the coffee is hot or that closing the stroller with my child in it may lead to the demise of said child. I accept the results of my own actions. Good post; food for thought!!

justmylife said...

Speak my mind? Never! heh! You have read my blog right? I try to be a responsible human but sometimes I fail miserably!

Marmarbug said...

Okay so I was watching the video and where have I been? I have never seen anyhing about a "day of peace". do we need one? Yes very much.
Things are just going to hell in a hand basket lately. People are having to choose between groceries and gas. Sick. Just sick.
We are a world POWER and our own citizens are struggling.

Kaytabug said...

The impact my family and myself have on the environment is big for me. I try to teach the kids by example, by doing the best I can do. By doing things like recycle, use reusable bags when shopping, change the bulbs to CFL's, turn lights off when I leave the room... which leads me to trying to influence others to do more to be environmentally responsible. I do that a lot. Just the other day a cashier at the store asked me why I use reusable bags, I told her, then she asked me what the difference between paper or plastic was. I don't think she will change her ways but I can always hope. One time I had a cashier ask me if I recycled when she saw my reusable bags. She had just moved here so I told her where I take my stuff and what they accept.

Your last last point is one of my biggest annoyances.I just can not stand people that do not take responsibility for themselves and their actions.

I guess I could have just told you that I agree with you on everything 100% and left it at that. I'll catch on one of these days!
Great post!!

Junebug said...

I loved the video. Let's do something on Peace Day this year!