Defining Responsibility

I’m currently disoriented from writing a discussion guide for a 30-minute IDI on information strategy and from pumping out a text-heavy 25-slide report in 7 hours.  I’m going to take a break and talk about a mini-epiphany I had last night while driving home from my parents’ house (they live about 40 minutes outside of Salt Lake City, so I have quite a bit of time to ponder random things during the drive home).

I think that the way in which a person defines responsibility plays a huge role in their outlook on morals, political issues, and even just life itself.  One person’s idea of “responsible” may be completely different from that of another’s.

For example, some think that homeless people end up on the street due to some “irresponsible” decision they made early on in life, while others may believe that some uncontrollable life event is the typical cause of homelessness.  Or, some may believe people on welfare are undeserving and grow complacent upon being dependent on government aid.  Rather, others think people on welfare are hard-working people and just need a little extra push to get started in getting their lives on the right track.

What I find interesting is that the self-righteous people who believe they are the responsible ones are often the ones born into a privileged situation who have never had to work hard for anything.  Of course, this is not always the case, but I am sure there is a good amount of evidence to support my point.  And, the self-righteous people are intolerant of others’ differences, and constantly criticize others, until finally they experience an unfortunate circumstance that forces them to become the kind of person they openly criticize.

Everyone looks down on abortion, but the decision to have one is what actually improves the girl’s well-being and the unborn child’s well-being when the timing just isn’t right.  Everyone looks down on gay marriage, but straight couples have never had to experience bullying during their upbringing or the emotional trauma associated with living a lie or knowing that their love is one that society doesn’t approve.  Before we jump to conclusions on what’s right or wrong, we need to imagine how we would feel if we were in that situation.  This is why I always stress the importance of being tolerant of others, even though it might be hard to understand and make sense of the decisions they make.

All drama aside, I just want to conclude with this:  Do not judge others unless you walk a mile in their shoes.  If you were to walk a mile in my shoes  –I’m going to be completely honest and this might come off as arrogant, but I’m being real—You would feel pretty damn good in my Christian Louboutins or my Tory Burch.  You would feel confident, successful and proud of yourself for all the mistakes you had to make before you finally grew up, started your career and started living THE life.  A life where things are falling into place and you feel that NOTHING is impossible because you already persevered and overcame challenges you never thought you’d make it through.  Before you judge others and call them “irresponsible,” take a step back first.  Imagine what you would do if you were in their situation.  Re-evaluate your own life, your flaws and the mistakes YOU’VE made.  Then, if you still feel like you’re the bigger person and that you have all the room in the world to say what you’re about to say, YOU STILL SHOULDN’T JUDGE.

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