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Are you responsible?

A deviation in language

In modern English usage, the word responsible has come to mean ownership of a situation. In other words you are responsible for your actions which is stretching the original truth of the meaning of the word.

If we go back far enough, the original meeting is respond, in other words it is about responding to life.

Similarly the word responsibility is used likewise and has come to mean that one is in a position of trust or authority while the older meaning is simply that one has an ability to respond.

On the face of it, language is continually changing however the transition of the word responsibility from being able to respond to a position of power and trust, and the transition of responsible from having an ability to respond has actually changed the way we view life.

Originally, being responsive and having the ability to respond meant that a person was simply responsive to life. In other words, if you see a line coming and don't want to be eaten than a normal response may be to seek protective shelter. If someone spoke to a responsible person, they had the ability to respond.

By changing the meaning of the word which most probably has been an unconscious happening over the past 300 years, we have gone from being able to respond to life to being the person blamed when something goes wrong.

In the process of this change, the English speaking civilisation has devolved instead of evolved. We have forgotten that one of the most fundamental principles in being human is to respond to life. Do you remember when you were child and the world was brilliantly wonderful? Is that the same today?

When we were young, that ability to respond to life was natural and we celebrated life. That's because we had so much response-ability and as everybody knows that is turned on its head making everyone a victim and the cry that "I am only human" in its most negative sense.

Nowadays, no one wants to be responsible because being responsible implies accepting blame for what one may have or may not have done. A consequence of this is that few people are able to engage in the processes of life beyond basic survival. This means that literally when people become unable to respond to political processes, we get all the stupid and abusive political social policies that we suffer today.

When I ask if you are responsible for the war in the Middle East, you must be responsible otherwise you cannot even form an opinion on the matter. If you see an old person fall on the street nearby and you are not responsible, there is no way you can be helpful but if you have that ability to respond then you can ascertain that persons needs and if necessary call the ambulance.

So, are you response-able and do you have response-ability?

It seems unlikely that the current use of the words and those similar can be changed, so maybe we should be asking if you are responsive to life and are you able to respond?

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1 comment to Are you responsible?

  • Julius Dominski

    Hi, self responsibility is a really big issue because in today’s political climate we are actively discouraged from being responsible. In many Western countries now you have to get and pay for permissions to do many things that were once free

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