This idea of responsibility is something so powerful, yet it’s also an easy word to throw around (as is any). What does it mean to be responsible, and where does responsibility ultimately lie? It may be relatively easy to craft a convincing or impressive answer to that, but how easy is it really to get to the bottom of?
To start, it can be approached in various ways: the idea of being called upon to answer, being able to respond; the notion of duty or of blame, of those things we are deemed responsible for; or the fact of our capacity itself, of being in the position to respond well. That may not be exhaustive as far as interpretations go, but it’s a solid starting point.
In each of those cases, what would it really mean? Being clear within ourselves about what we’re responsible for as citizens, consumers and humans may be part of it. But then do we limit ourselves to legal parameters and social norms, or hold ourselves accountable to higher moral or ethical standards we might decide to adhere to? Where we draw the line seems to be a personal concern.
Beyond that rather open question of what we’re responsible for, there’s also the sense of our ability to do so: being sure of our understanding, our knowledge, and then our freedom to answer as we see fit. Surely in order to respond we must grasp what’s at stake, how it fits in the bigger picture, and ways our individual response may serve to affect change within things, for better or worse.
It’s something I’ve toyed with at various times in writing here (see Notes One), as it’s central to life in so many ways. It may be hard to address or get a full sense of, especially with the pace of modern life and all its communication challenges, but it also seems essential that we somehow find the space and rise to the occasion (Notes Two).
Because, with all the freedoms of Western society and its marketplaces, it really seems a great deal of responsibility is falling to us as individuals (Notes Three). How we act online, as consumers, socially, in terms of diet, within our culture – in countless areas it’s coming down to us to regulate our behaviour and our choices; otherwise we presumably risk having that freedom curtailed ‘for our own safety’.
Society is almost incredibly complicated, as is human nature: do we truly understand how all this works and the importance of our participation in keeping everything operating smoothly? At times it appears we’re simply ploughing ahead, trusting it’ll all work out and someone knows what we’re doing (Notes Four).
Of course, we could look on this as a daunting task or a creative one. That so much responsibility, so much freedom rests in our hands can be seen as a wonderful thing, a cause for constructive optimism. For me then, the core is in believing that we matter and acting as such.
Notes and References:
Note 1: What inspires all of this
Note 1: Need to stand alone & think for ourselves
Note 1: What is real?
Note 2: Things we can’t talk about
Note 2: How do we find a collective vision?
Note 3: “The Spirit of Community”
Note 3: “Brave New World Revisited”
Note 3: “The Tipping Point”
Note 4: Economy & Humanity
Note 4: Can we overcome purely economic thinking?
Note 4: Ideas around education & responsibility
Note 4: Modern media and complex realities