A few weeks ago I published a post on the “Respect” part of the above, and it is now time to cover the other side of the equation, “Responsibility”. There are two types of responsibility, making responsible decisions, and then taking responsibility for the resulting actions. While they are somewhat related, there are two separate thought processes necessary to achieve total responsibility.
Taking responsible decisions requires thinking about both the pros and cons of the necessary decision before taking the final step. Many individuals get all enthused about a certain subject and forget that there is always a down side to everything. Not thinking about any possible adverse reactions to any decision ensures that there will be some aspect of that decision that catches them by surprise. Thinking about both sides of the question the first place ensures they are better prepared should such a negative situation occur.
You cannot make a responsible decision unless you first think through the matter in some detail, balancing both the positive and negative aspects of the matter at hand. I am accused of always looking at the negative side of any question before the positive. I believe that this process is more efficient and logical. Why get all excited and start planning something when there is obviously a downside that is more important? If the negative aspect is strong enough, the matter stops there, and the positive side does not need to be considered at all. Changing the thought process the other way round takes more than twice the effort and time. Thinking about the negative side of the question also ensures that there is no disappointment or dashed expectations.
Taking responsible decisions by looking at both sides of the question ensures that the other side of the “2R’s”, respect for others, is assured. If one also considers others when making any decisions then the resulting decision is indeed responsible. Us humans are inclined to think of ourselves first, and others second. Although some may argue the point, I believe that this is just us being human, in other words, just as any other animal would. Our natural animal instincts and drives are always there behind the scenes and, while we have managed to temper these somewhat, they are still deeply in our DNA. What us humans have managed to do is to use our brainpower to train ourselves to moderate our actions and reactions. Some societies of this world have not evolved the same way that others may have, because it takes many generations and thousands of years to create such distinctions.
The other aspect of being responsible is taking responsibility for ones own actions. This, in some regards, is more important than making responsible decisions. The modern world has, for some reason or other, decided that it is the correct thing for people to always blame someone else. Taking responsibility for your actions also assists with being able to enjoy a strong measure of self respect. If one always blames others when you have done anything stupid or wrong, it puts a supreme dent in ones self-respect. That, of course, is one of the other parts of the “2R’s”, Respect and Responsibility.
I believe the reasons why this lack of responsible thinking has come to the fore in more recent times revolves around two things. The first of these involves around the recent trend of a selfish society that is inclined to think of themselves first. The other is the legal fraternity, who have not only been involved in laws that allow a person to blame others, but who benefit financially from any resulting legal action. It would be very easy for lawmakers to specifically enact a law that clearly shows that every person should be responsible for their own actions. Going onto a person’s private property and then hurting themselves on something on that land should not the landowner’s responsibility. If the trespasser did not enter the land in the first place, they would not get hurt. That is not how the law in most places currently works.
Every person would modify their actions if they knew that they would always be accountable for their own actions. The insurance industry would have to modify their thinking as certain payouts would just not occur. Consumers would also benefit financially. If a person makes a adverse decision to do anything, and that decision results in an accident, any subsequent matter is immaterial. Any legal decisions should be based on who made the initial decision.
We all know that we regularly make snap decisions and sometimes this leads to disaster. Taking a couple of extra seconds or minutes before taking actions can often be a benefit. We sometimes decide to throw some rubbish out of our car window without considering anything at all. Are we being responsible? Could we have given that decision a second or two of reflection before acting? Not only that, are we in any way respecting other people, the environment, or anything else other than our own instant want? Littering is a reflection of a person’s lack of ability to think of anyone else but themselves. I do believe that in my part of the world littering has become less of a problem, but it still occurs.
One of the defenses used in a court of law is “I had too many drinks, your honor, and I did not know what I was doing”. Unless someone forced alcohol down their neck, they were responsible for what and how much they drank. Being drunk is not a defense, it should, if anything, increase any penalty. It is all part of being responsible for one’s own actions. In most circumstances it is not difficult to work out what action precipitated all others. The only person responsible should be the person who set the train in motion.
The “2R’s”, Respect and Responsibility, are critical to any society if it wishes to become open, inclusive, cohesive, welcoming, comfortable, caring and generally successful. Each individual would need to include the “2R’s” in their thinking to enable this to happen. This might all sound very idealistic, and it probably is, but efforts should still be made by every person in this regard unless they wish for their society to deteriorate. In the end, we get the society we collectively deserve.
Not only should the “3R’s” be taught at schools, the “2R’s” should also be taught at the same time. We could end up with a society we can all be proud of, although that might just be wishful thinking. Any thoughts or comments out there?