Friday, January 20, 2012

Responsibility and power

I subscribe to an e-newsletter, of sorts, titled "Notes from the Universe." Today's message included a line that took me by surprise: "With great responsibility, ... comes great power." At first, I thought, Yeah, yeah... like in Spiderman. But wait - the line in that movie was, "With great power, comes great responsibility." Huh... Both are equally true, but the difference is poignant.

This new perspective alerts us to the truth that the more we take on, the more we have at our disposal. The more things we enfold into our own purview, concern, and obligation, the more resources we have access to by virtue of authority. By taking responsibility of greater and greater aspects of our own lives, for example, we acquire greater and greater sovereignty over our own lives. When we go further, and accept increased responsibility in other areas of life - say, work, politics, society... - we find we are endowed with increased ability, confidence, and efficacy.

Alternatively, the less responsibility we bear, the more power we give away to others. If we are not responsible for our emotions, they will run us. If we are not responsible for our choices, someone else will make them for us. If we are not responsible for our own well-being, another will claim dominance over our lives. If we are not responsible for our work, our jobs will forever be subservient to those who are. If we are not responsible for the state of our State, we will find ourselves the subjects of despotism. If we are not responsible for the conditions of our surrounding communities, we will not find rewarding places within them.

There really is no facet of our lives for which we should not take full responsibility. Even in those incidents which occur involving forces beyond our control, we can still hold ourselves accountable for the roles we play, for the attitudes we choose, and for our responses to the events. Additionally, it is equally important that we learn to distinguish between which forces are beyond our control, and which are entirely ours to command. While we're at it, we would all do well to run regular checks on our thought processes for areas where we unwittingly forfeit power, by placing blame on others, claiming victimization by others, or demanding unearned benefits under the pretense of entitlement. When we attribute power to others, it is always at the expense of our own, despite any appearances to the contrary. Take responsibility wherever you find it, and you will have all the power you will ever need.

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