The Responsible Thing

Responsibility like the other metaphysical entities that inflict life, is a most odd thing. You make a point to run away from it in the early years of your life and as you get older your success as an individual is determined by how well you embrace it. Any kid in a pack of kids, who says that they must not pee in the pool, or make holes in hedges is doing the responsible thing. The rational thing by avoiding a potential clash with a parental authority which is sure to punish the act in question with a physical punishment or a highly audible telling off. The nature of the impending unpleasantness might vary but that it shall occur is almost certain. Despite this the kid who becomes the snitch or the conscience of the group not only is despised by his peers but also by the reprimanding figure. For the child’s inability to blend and the potential to suck up reminds the adult of someone similar from his or her own childhood. So it is not wrong to assume that there is a societal acceptance of diminished maturity at younger ages, in fact the acceptance has long transformed into an expectation.

So every child conforms and lets the natural process of decision making evolved over millenia of survival in the wild outside well defined social norms, take a back seat. As long as there is an adult or a relative adult to make decisions and do the thinking there is little expectation from the young one to exercise his or her prefrontal cortex, beyond choosing which flavor of ice cream to eat. But then there is that other bleak side to things, as one ages and drives past the awkwardness of adloscence, responsibility doesn’t seem as fleeting as before. There is a definite period where the sudden change in the quantum of responsibility one is supposed to posses increases exponentially. From a state of carefreeness bordering on carelessness you are expected to suddenly brace the regins of your own life without any prior experience. As it can be imagined, the free will and self confidence one possesses shall be directly determined by the times one has made succesful decisions over the last few years. Cases where the decision has been monumental enough to be of personal significance and independent enough to instill a sense of self reliance. These circumstances are in violation of the social norm of letting children determine for themselves what they need to do and instead instructing them.

So what does this all lead to and why would one discuss this? The answer to that would be the utter inability of certain individuals to sustain themselves in an environment from which their primary care giver/decision maker has been removed. This is independent of age and gender and is best observed when people leave their homes for studies, jobs or marriage. In each case if lessons of self sufficiency have not been sufficient then the person in view of impending disruption of his or her lifestyle finds a substitute for the figure of responsibility and life goes on as usual. The interesting thing here of course is the ready availablity of such relatively responsible people given that responsbility is in itself not a very abundant commodity. The possible explaination is of course the **joy of duty**. As civilization progressed there rose the need for delegation of roles by the then leaders. Simple stuff like the collection of firewood or warning against predators were duties assigned to those seen most suiting to them. The accomplishment of the said duty may not have necessarily added value to the day but even kept something getting subtracted from it. This would be a good thing and thus the person who achieved it was applauded. Whenever the expression of appreciation was not possible it became essential for the individual to keep feeling valued and good about oneself. This ensured that the duty was something which wouldn’t have to be dictated but was proactively sought. This sense of satisfaction, of having contributed to something the purpose of which in itself is not very clear, is what drives certain people to seek to take on responsbilities. They may be particularly good at something so chosen to that task no matter what their inclination or are just the person at the wrong place at the right time.

If responsbility is considered a matter of prestige and it has historically received recognition in all forms that we find lucrative, then surely one must seek it out and assign it to one. Yes there are advantages in seeking out tasks and getting them done but that is probably more on the route to success than happiness. As is with ignrance, the person most involved is the one who suffers no matter what. An NGO which runs a Climate Control Initiative has the responsibility of maintaining a clean environment and educating the public on Global Warming. But given your average Red Neck, he remains happy and oblivious to the plight of the world due to his ignorance and his divestment of responsibility by overlooking the problem. It is not the right way to do things, but the least troubling. So in marriage, in a household, in a company, on a picnic, or even the organization of a full fledged, truly Roman styled orgy, the primary goal of anyone should be to take up as little responsibility as possible. What you do for the first time and do well becomes your task for a lifetime. Keep this in mind whenever you volunteer for anything the next time, yes it might seem right and responsible but always bring to your mind the tale of the rat who put the bell around the cat’s neck. How long do you think he actually lived?



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