Sunday, August 1

Tuesday’s Temptation: Checking out of Responsibility

It is an interesting question: How responsible for our conditions are we?

Certainly, if I actively dig divots in their driveway, I am responsible for making their lives harder. But what if I passively ignore other people digging divots in their driveway? Am I not still responsible? What if I actually chase after those who are digging divots? What am I responsible for there?

That's the sticky wicket. I chase after the divot diggers and they respond with violence. My chase failed, but I tried. What am I responsible for?

What if the divot diggers are basically untouchable? Maybe they are the city council digging up the driveway of my neighbor for a street widening project?  My neighbor is still harmed. How do I help my neighbor are the concomitant systems that are associated with a street widening project (access to business, better driving, safer bike lanes)?  What is the responsible thing to do?

Maybe another question is, "What is responsibility?"

I said, recently, "We are all responsible for the government that we elect and the decisions they make whether or not we personally voted for that particular person."  That did not land well among my libertarian friends.

The Cambridge Dictionary includes this under the definition of responsible: "Having the duty of taking care of something."  In that way, I think we are all responsible for the government and its decisions and complicit in its results when we check-out of our care-taking or trustee role as voters, educators, advocates, and care-takers of one another.

I was referring to the bombing of Syria when I said that I was, in part, responsible because I am a US citizen and this is done in my name. I am, in part, responsible for the social conditions that rose up to elect Donald Trump.  It isn't about blame. It is about duty, care, and good judgment.

We are all responsible for the totality of the picture that our society has created.

My prayer today is that together we will find the strength to not check-out of our responsibility for the world, our government, our community, and our neighbors. And that we will find the will to care for one another.




Photo by davetoaster at

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