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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Black Hole of Responsibility

On a scale of 1 (easiest) to 10 (toughest), how difficult is it for you to accept responsibility? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1386).

We have all heard politicians in the midst of an embarrassing situation say “I accept full responsibility—in the last analysis whatever happens on my watch is my responsibility.” By deeply intoning “whatever happens is my responsibility” he is (while sounding reassuringly solid) deliberately exculpating himself. For if everything is his responsibility, then nothing is his responsibility. One simply cannot be accountable for everything under the sun.

This brings us to the key question—not will I accept responsibility, but what is my responsibility? The real dilemma is discerning where my responsibility begins and ends. No one can accept unlimited responsibility for everything. Great misadventures occur whenever unlimited responsibility is assumed, especially if it is assumed by a person of power and influence—however flattering it may be for the leader to assume otherwise.

The responsibility mythology is used to justify great inequity in wealth distribution. A person claims (usually an owner of high executive) due to their unlimited responsibilities that they are due unlimited compensation. The plain fact of the matter is that the work of any enterprise requires great democratization of responsibility and accountability, and fairly, of compensation.

Thus we see that the assumption of unlimited responsibility essentially derives from selfish interest and arrogance. It takes a little humility to see ourselves as one among many tasked with essential but limited responsibilities.

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