Personal Responsibility

Many people, especially those with traditional (conservative) views about religion and politics talk a lot about personal responsibility. How individuals need to take more responsibility for themselves and their actions and choices. Mostly, from a conservative view, this is said in the context of either poverty or sexuality. Think “getting a job” instead of “living off the system.” Or think women who face difficult choices because of unwanted (sometimes forced) pregnancies.

I agree that personal responsibility is an important value, but I have a somewhat different list to offer:

  • For men who get women pregnant – take responsibility for your actions.
  • For people who get rich by taking advantage of employees – take responsibility for them.
  • For all in public office who lie to their constitutents – take responsibility for the people who elected you.
  • For white people who benefit from simply being white – take responsibility for what happpens to people of color.
  • For the nation who spends more than any other nation on war – take responsibility for peace and spending our money on what will lead to peace rather than war.
  • For a nation with great wealth – take responsibility for people in nations without great wealth.

People have said that when we point one finger at someone else, four fingers are pointed back at us. Jesus said to take the log out of our own eyes before we seek to remove the speck from someone else’s eyes. This post is not a call to judgment against other people, but a call to examine ourselves. We all are part of something larger. No one can take responsibility only for oneself without accepting responsibility for other people as well.

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