There are two ways to get children somewhere on time. One way is to wake them up, set out their clothes, prepare their food and drive them everywhere they need to be. Another is to help out only when needed, and, if the kids miss the bus, they walk to school. If both schools of thought get the same good result, are both methods of getting the result good?
The only way to determine the quality of the upbringing is to evaluate the child’s behavior when they are on their own. More specifically, how the child handles personal responsibility. The child who relies on someone else to get them up in the morning will only appear to be responsible as long as someone is there to assist. That same child will unlikely be successful in any action where punctuality is foundational since some responsibilities are necessary for other responsibilities to rest upon.
But what is responsibility? Many assume the words “job” and “responsibility” are synonymous, however in the context of the word responsible, in addition to enacting obligations or duties, responsibility involves knowing right from wrong and the ability to think and act reasonably (as defined by The World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary).
The meaning of responsibility is also contingent on one’s perspective and level of maturity. For the immature individual, responsibility is something to be tried where for the mature soul it’s more of a duty. Most people recognize responsibility more clearly in others than in themselves, and, when they feel they’ve been slighted, have no problem empowering themselves by shaming others in the name of responsibility.
Why is carrying responsibility important? If carrying physical weight strengthens the body, it stands to reason carrying responsibility (i.e. spiritual weight) would increase our will power as well as our emotional and mental resilience. And, just as carrying responsibility strengthens the character of an individual, a responsible community will grow to be powerful as well.
To be effective, responsibilities must be prioritized. If two parents wish the best for their children, the responsibility to each other must outweigh the responsibility to the children for the sake of the children and their marriage. If the parents fail to agree or place the greater weight of responsibility on the children rather than their commitment to each other, the parents empower themselves temporarily at the expense of the family and teach their children authority is relative and/or unnecessary.
Conversely, government officials are responsible to the people they represent as well as to their party. If a government representative favors his party more than the people, he does disservice to the people, his office and his party.
If responsibility is based on knowing right from wrong and exercising reasonable thinking as well as maturity and management skills, being responsible is a good thing. If responsibilities are good, shouldn’t we be doing something to insure we become more responsible? Unfortunately, everything from the gaining acceptance of the homosexual agenda to the amount of money spent by gamers for the latest thrill indicates the growing consensus a person’s happiness is more important than his responsibility.
It’s no wonder the US is not perceived to be as powerful today as it once was. It would be easy to blame a president or his administration for recent failings, but is that responsible considering it was the voters, and, in no small part, non-voters which placed him there in the first place? If the strength of a community is based on its accepted responsibilities (one of which is electing good leaders), then the weakness we’re experiencing is due solely to the failed responsibilities of the community.
It’s a sad day when those who do not vote have more influence than those who do. We could spend our lives debating what went wrong; who did or didn’t do what, but, at the end of the day, no map will be able to guide us until we determine where we are and which way is up.
For those thinking you’re inundated with responsibilities and cannot possibly handle more, you are probably right, but are those responsibilities prioritized? People who work hard in order to gain financial freedom do so for the sake of control – not responsibility. The person who takes responsibility is willing to accept correction and consequence. The person who takes control is not. The error is not in the hard work but in setting an ultimate goal which weakens the human spirit.
Today, our nation is more like the children whose parents wake them up, set out their clothes, prepare their meals and drive them to school. Two generations ago there was hardly a man in this country who didn’t know how to skillfully swing a hammer, turn a screw or saw a piece of wood. Today, it would be hard to find someone who could tell you the difference between an allen wrench and a crescent wrench. Having diversified relationships, though helpful and wise to maintain, should not excuse an individual of his responsibility for fundamental knowledge.
The basement of my mother-in-law’s house has had a history of leaking. Some time ago we ran a couple yards of sand around the house to raise the ground level which stopped the leaking in all but one area. She called a professional who suggested an elaborate repair with a price tag of $20,000. We didn’t take their advice and found the real problem hidden under her deck in a poor connection in the elbow of her gutter drain. The fix: less than $10.
We may pay companies for their expertise, but bundled into the price tag for their service is also the cost of a receptionist, salesman, accountant, truck and building expenses, insurance, taxes, etc. However, the most costly item we pay for is in whatever area we’re found to be irresponsible by never acquiring the education, training, tools or willingness to get our hands dirty.
Why do we still choose to shift responsibility away in spite of the cost? Firstly, it’s an inherited behavior. The majority of Americans are now the second and third generation stemming from divorced parents, which means we have no sense of commitment. We’ve embraced a mindset where everything, including relationships, is disposable. We’ve been taught and tested to think individually, in spite of the fact that single-mindedness is not how a community best functions. And now, after poor decisions have been made, rather than take responsibility for our mistakes, we’ve made them culturally accepted.
The easiest way something becomes culturally accepted is to legalize whatever it is for which you don’t want to be responsible. Henry the XIII didn’t want to be married, so he legalized divorce. Running numbers was deemed criminal and sold to the community by branding it the numbers racket. After being violently enforced, the same people that criminalized it legalized and rebranded it again. Today we call it the Lottery.
Since it costs a person exponentially more to shift the weight of responsibility off their shoulders, one way to determine whether responsibility has been shifted away is to do a financial analysis.
One of the major holes in our culture’s financial bucket was created by Insurance companies. Just a few hundred years ago, the concept of communal insurance didn’t exist. It began in the maritime trade industry where, to avoid the great cost to an individual ship owner in the instance a ship was lost to the sea, the community would suffer the cost jointly. The result was the shipping company no longer had a consequence to hold itself to the highest standard.
Life, health and homeowners insurance are all relatively new concepts as well. With life and health insurance, an individual no longer has to be accountable for their own health. Furthermore, with workman’s comp insurance, someone of questionable character may even be handsomely rewarded for self-negligence. Health insurance corrupts character by shifting the responsibility of maintaining an individual’s health to doctors and hospitals which incurs a direct cost as well as the indirect cost of liability insurance.
Auto insurance eliminates personal liability which enables recklessness. What is worse is we entrust the maintenance of our vehicles to manufacturers whose engineers are forced to turn out projects in record time contributing to a correspondingly high number of recalls.
A good portion of our taxes go toward education, but why should parents shift the responsibility of instructing and training their children to teachers who have been stripped of authority and insulated from consequence? Tax dollars are also invested in our safety through the police and court system to enforce discipline. But how can something be enforced which hasn’t first been taught?
People are no longer individually engaged in any stage of the preparation of what they eat. Because we’ve shifted the weight of responsibility of preparing our food to major corporations we now consume food laced with more die and chemicals and packaged with more future waste than any generation before us.
Today technology wakes us up, soothes us to sleep and even flushes our toilets. Our connection to the internet gives us access to boundless information so we don’t need to know anything. Our gadgets store our information so we don’t need to remember anything. We use technology to become self-sufficient, which makes us feel independent, but, through such independence individuals are no longer of any value to one another.
Most people have long turned away from the use of the Bible for instruction, protection and censorship and have put their trust in the government, but how can we expect a government agency to effectively regulate the same corporation which sponsored it?
As money and faith are concerned, the Judeo/Christian way of life isn’t free either. If you truly follow Biblical principles, you’ll be responsible for tithes and offerings which can add up to 20% or more of one’s overall income. The difference between the concept of tithing and tax however, is the tithe is designed to turn a person from being a taker into a giver which strengthens character and unites, as opposed to taxes which everyone attempts to ignore or find a way around which reinforces selfishness and separation.
Today we blind ourselves to authority and consequence: God and Hell don’t exist, spanking is abusive, everybody wins and deserves a trophy, we claim the right to control our selves in lieu of a gross lack of self-control.
If this shifting of weight continues, individuals and communities will free themselves of all consequence and forget without consequences there is no growth, change or strength. It also becomes ever-increasingly unlikely we will ever acknowledge or believe in Godly tenets since Godly principles all have boundaries and inherent consequences.
Knowing right from wrong and using our ability to think and act reasonably is fundamentally good. Goodness isn’t understood without a working knowledge of Godly principles. Godly principles are reinforced through exercising responsibility which strengthens when properly prioritized. But what does this matter if what we want is a conflict-free existence without authority and consequence?
In a perfect world, two biological parents would selflessly accept the responsibility to train their children to be responsible, and then delegate responsibilities to them according to their training and maturity level. These children would also be taught to share responsibilities and, to accept correction and consequence graciously. When sufficiently strengthened and mature, they would likewise train others and then delegate responsibilities, holding the next generation accountable to a Godly standard in order to strengthen them and their community.
Would you prefer to live in a world without care, consequence and strength or a world of reliability through discipline and maturity? Whatever world you take part in is one you help create. Whether you make it stronger or weaker will be a matter of how you shift your weight.