Friday, October 14, 2011

Personal accountability

I've mentioned Peck's "The Road Less Traveled" in reference to love, and that one of love's described facets is discipline. Peck defines self-discipline as 4-fold, including delaying gratification, accepting responsibility, dedicating to truth, and balancing.

In light of certain aspects of certain current events, I am compelled to comment specifically on the second listing: accepting responsibility, or personal accountability. This means recognizing the choices we have made, and their role in our circumstance. This also means preceding choices with consideration of outcomes, but it seems that the retrospective understanding is most difficult for us mortals. It is unfortunately easy to fall into the mindset of the victim when evaluating our circumstances. The self-perceived victim fails to maintain sight of his or her gift of choice. Most of the time, we have a vast array of choice. Undoubtedly, there are influences on our lives which are sourced beyond our realm of will, but our reactions to such influences, as well as all events, remain solely within our very own discretion.

If you make a choice that turns out to be less beneficial than you anticipated, and subsequently place blame on entities outside of your self, you are not accepting responsibility for your own decisions and actions, and you are falling prey to your own victimization. If you choose to become a victim of your own choices, you will find yourself in an assured cycle of despair. If, however, you make a choice under certain conditions, and those conditions change during the course of your actions, in such a way as to have an adverse effect on your planned outcome, you could choose to cry victim, and pitch a fit, but you still have the gift of choice. You could alternatively, recognize that some of the negative effects of your choice were set from the beginning - whether or not you chose to acknowledge them then - and choose to make lemonade out of the newly and unexpectedly developed lemons. Discover your innate resourcefulness, develop a greater ingenuity, get creative! Perhaps, consider occupying YOUR street. See if your neighbors need any services you might be able to provide (e.g., lawn care, pet care, child care, automobile care, or even other forms of personal assistance you might be qualified for, such as accounting assistance, academic tutoring, or shopping aid...) Seek a wage, be a volunteer. Be proactive, but be productive. You only get to the extent that you give.

Charles Darwin initiated the discovery of the nature of evolution, the law of survival of the fittest, and the necessity of adaptation. Failure to perceive the universal fact of ever occurring change will result in a regular shellacking of unpleasant surprises and disappointment, as well as an inability to adapt. Resilience is a quality we should all aspire to cultivate. It is what we see in every person ever admired by anyone. It is what is lacking in so much of our modern culture to a depressing degree, and what we need to reclaim if we are to have any hope for survival. Depending on others for our own well-being is no way to obtain well-being; in fact, it is a distinct recipe for ill-being.

When we find that our circumstances are undesirable - be they self-made or external - we are well advised to take what action we can to effect constructive change. We can always make changes in our own lives, and that's also the best place to start when seeking to effect change in external circumstances. When external change requires greater action, engage in an enterprise that will effectively achieve your goals, and consistently integrate with your values. In any case, we must always remain accountable for our own choices, for without that assumption of responsibility, we leave the option open to others to assume it for us. If we lose our freedom of choice, we lose all worth of life.


  1. Thanks for your reflections, I don't understand those that live beyond their means and then bemoan their perceived plight. Things don't make you happy, joy of chosen activities and people with like values help in making life good. With exceptions of course we are the sum total of all prior decisions we have made.and doing nothing to change a bad situation is definitely a decision.

  2. When taking a stand, be sure to stand FOR something, rather than against something, if you want to effect change; otherwise, you're just complaining. Be solution-oriented.