Responsibility - An ever-growing behavior that is becoming notably accepted by society is this idea we are 'beyond' responsible for the choices we make and consequences of our actions. More and more, we are creating a deeper rabbit hole to dive down. Just like Alice, the further we go the more ridiculous the things we find down there are. Instead of the red queen we find outlandish excuses and validations. We have created a game like structure where we perpetually out bid each other for whom is the biggest victim, and why the world owes us the most. Exempting us from work, sourcing true meaning to our lives and living up to our potential.
Finding Echo Chambers
It has become possible to find echo chambers that support your negative choices or means of coping as if to say, "its acceptable to not be so determined or you are the weight you are its not your fault". "Its ok to bounce from job to job without meaning or intent".
Social media has created a well of negative reinforcement disguised as positive feedback. Think of a time when perhaps, someone was a constant failure or could not hack a certain diet or sacrifice? Back in yester year they would have been the one off, unable to spill their nonsensical opinions to more than a few people who would listen.
However, thanks to social media and the internet, communication of these ideas has become so readily accessible it just seems to bounce of each other. For every person creating an excuse to be the victim of their own existence, there’s 10 other people supporting this and neglecting the drive to improve one’s self or reach for something more beyond that.
Pandering to the Herd
We are mitigating the desire to achieve by pandering to the herd of victimhood and saying, "they are the normal ones and everyone else is wrong for trying!". "It’s not their fault life f*cked them and therefore not trying is just as ok as those who try".
I in fact recently saw a twitter post saying, “soon you will see everyone posting about their successes during this pandemic and how hard they worked, ignore them. If you survived 2020 that is an achievement its self.” I’m sorry to any who agree with this, but I cannot. The human body was designed to survive the harshest environments we are adaptive and malleable. To think we are setting the bar so low that simply ‘existing’ is the award, when 1000 years ago surviving actually required effort daily.
To pass off the human responsibility, if not obligation, to grow and learn and improve and say that simply existing is ‘award worthy’ is actually frustrating! To take away from those who acted and went after what is theirs and took on the burden of life and carried it is unfair and unwarranted.
Reaching the Cross-roads
At a certain point, humanity will reach cross-roads. where we either stagnate as we continually pander to the lowest common victimhood we can find, or we stand back up and take up what is our own responsibilities. To decide that the outcomes we can control, are ours to bare and carry. From there the reality we wish to live becomes ours to shape; it becomes our responsibility.
Every single person experienced 2020 in their own way and I will recognise that, however, that is not an excuse to justify stagnating. External events outside of your control cannot be held as your responsibility to deal with. What is your responsibility though, is how you respond to it. How you controlled your own emotions, mental wellbeing and, growth.
To believe every single potential outcome was beyond your ability to control is an ignorant and lazy way of justifying poor choices. If we recognise perhaps, part of 2020 was a rest for some sure, but for the majority we saw spikes in weight gain, returns to poor behaviour and lifestyle patterns. In fact (Holy. R. hull et al,. 2006)(1) found that Thanks Giving weekend shows an increase in 0.5kg of bodyweight. This has been consistent with current literature. With a re-published article by calorie control.org (2), estimating upwards of 3000 cals in a single Thanks Giving meal. An overall spike in caloric intake anywhere between 3000-7000 calories. Now to me, COVID-19 is not your job to control, but if weight loss or body composition is your objective, then how you eat is 100% your responsibility to control.
Drawing a Line in the Sand
The issue becomes where we draw the line in the sand, who decides who’s the worst victim and who gets to use the most excuses? Then beyond that, who then validates you? Who’s opinion are you seeking that you so desperately want besides your own?
The longer we create this acceptance, the greater and deeper the 'victims' list goes, for every person with a ‘crux’ we may call it, someone else will have two. Who’s worse off? Me because I’m an African American, or what about me I’m an African American woman, well what about me I’m an African American woman with 2 kids and no husband. "What if I’m Hispanic with low income job and can’t cross the border to get my child into a strong education.?” As you can see, the longer we extrapolate this entitled victim mentality and pass responsibility onto society to solve our problems, the bigger the list becomes.
Jordan Peterson gave a fine speech on this in regards to being dealt cards in life and playing your hand the best you can. Not because every hand is equal; but because it’s the best you can do and all you can do. (3)
No One is Perfect
At a certain point, we have to face up to the fact that no matter how bad we have it, we are all starting from somewhere. No one is perfect and no one has a perfect place to start. Think of a talented musician who may also have a drug addiction and lonely bed at night. Or a billionaire whose son will never know the value of a dollar as he’s wanted for nothing in life? Are they not by technicality disadvantages as well?
The thing is, it is not your responsibility to care about the advantages of others, or play the pity card because of the ones you don’t have, to someone else you have the advantages they want or could only dream of. Gratitude and respect of what you have is important, from that, taking the responsibility to use those advantages however possible is entirely up to you.
Some simple ways I have found to build upon this responsibility, for example, the great Marcus Aurelius’ contemplated death daily; as simply and as complex as that. If you have no other meaning in life than to feel sorry for yourself, consider the fact that you are alive at all and the complete improbability of you being here occurred. The sperm that didn’t make the egg when you did, I consider it daily my obligation to live the best I possibly can because of who may not have gotten to.
Contemplate your own Mortality
By contemplating your own mortality, it forces us to come face-to-face with how precious everything is, the sheer miracle of existence in and of itself.
Another way I look at life, is the sacrifice and the astonishment that every single ancestor in my family, and the human species in general managed to survive, every harsh environment, threat, catastrophe and more across history. To reproduce with every generation until right now, in order for me to exist here today. In this time and place. If the baring of responsibility, to live a noble and forthright life, to accept the benefits and the consequences of your own choices and actions, to feel the empowerment of what responsibility gives you; isn't enough to change your mind on the subject of responsibility...Then I feel for you. To be so lost in neverland, refusing to grow up and bare your crosses.
You are not a coincidence; you are not entitled to be alive, you are not immune to suffering nor should be pitied for being so. The fact is that we are all suffering, life is absolute chaos and taking up the responsibility of your own story and the decisions you make, in effect, brings order to that chaos.