Empowerment

The Paradox of Responsibility

My wife and I were going for a walk the other day and noticed that there was a lot of trash along the sidewalk and in the undergrowth. This is also the same path that a lot of teenagers use to walk to and from high school. My first thought was, “What a bunch of irresponsible kids that can’t hang onto their trash until they got home.” Honestly, it was probably my second and third thought as well. Eventually i got to thinking, “Does it make me irresponsible if I see trash that I know should be picked up but I don’t do it, even if it isn’t mine?”

That thought obviously disturbed me more than the first one, so I thought I should explore what it really means to be responsible and why it’s important. Responsibility and accountability are terms that are kicked around a lot, but I’m not sure if we really understand what we are talking about or when it should be meaningful. I certainly want other people to be responsible; it’s easy to take a moral high ground and point out how their irresponsibility is ruining their lives and my own. But I am not so sure about it when other people are holding me responsible. I am not sure exactly what I should be accountable for anyway.