Is the main problem in our society as simple as a lack of personal responsibility? How often do you see people acting irresponsibly and think “that is wrong?” But how often do you see yourself acting irresponsibly and just make an excuse? Again, this comes back to being complicit. Just because others have no personal responsibility does not mean that you should give in. If you take on personal responsibility then you will help make the world a better place. You can lead by example.
It really is not a surprise that people have lost their sense of personal responsibility. Just like civility, personal responsibility has slowly eroded over the past hundred years. As society gets more complex, people drift away from one another, and we see less direct impact of our actions. Perhaps we are at a point where we feel that our actions are so meaningless that we no longer feel the need to be personally responsible. The problem is that if we all feel this way, then nobody will act responsibly. If we are all complicit, we will all fail.
Another cause of decreased personal responsibility could be that we have too many laws and too little enforcement. I honestly believe that we need to cut back on laws, simplify them, and concentrate on the laws that are most important. And those important laws must be more fully enforced. A law that is neither followed nor enforced is no real law at all. All it does is make the honest fearful and the dishonest succeed. When laws exist to control our behaviour but aren’t enforced, how can people keep, or develop, their sense of personal responsibility?
We talk about problems but not nearly as much about solutions. Most of us worry about global warming, corporate takeover, government meddling, war crimes, hate crimes, and many more things. These are really huge problems. “I can’t solve it, I am just one person,“ yet all these problems are caused by people. Sure, large groups of people, but people nonetheless. How can we expect all those people to change if we are unwilling to change ourselves?
So what is the solution? Fighting corporations or government is a really big deal, and I believe that is not the best way. Taking on personal responsibility and worrying about your own life and your own enjoyment is the right way to go. Limit your dependence on corporations and government. Live the way you want to, but be responsible about it. Don’t infringe on other people. This is the right way to fight back. If we all did this, then the corporations and government would have to listen to us. Eventually, they would be run by people living this way.
What does Taking on Personal Responsibility Mean?
You can start by taking responsibility for your driving, and be safe and courteous. Or be nice and do your job well. People around you will notice and appreciate it.
Taking on personal responsibility also means seeing something that you know is wrong, being in a position where you can make a difference, making that issue your own, and correcting the wrong. I’m not saying you should be an advocate all the time, especially in situations where you cannot make a difference or where it is dangerous. I’m saying that if you see something that you know is wrong, and you are in a position to make a difference with little or no risk to yourself, then do something about it. Make a difference. Lead by example. After a while, you will start to appreciate how just one person really can change things for the better.
There are people who readily take on personal responsibility. But if we don’t step up once in a while, then that person will get exhausted very quickly. They will get disillusioned. They will stop. And we will all suffer.
If you take on personal responsibility and move up in the corporate or government ladder, you bring personal responsibility into your job. You can run for office and act responsibly. You can run a company and act responsibly. You can enforce responsible rules and eliminate needless and confusing laws and rules. Individuals form government and corporations, and only responsible individuals can fix them.