1. The state or quality of being answerable, accountable, liable, or responsible, as for a trust, debt, office, or person.
2. Means of meeting liabilities; ability to answer in payment.
3. That for which one is accountable, liable, answerable, or responsible, as a duty, debt, or trust.
Root word: responsible, meaning, among other things, having such intellectual or moral capacity as to be able to discriminate and choose between right and wrong; with regard to any given act, free from compulsion and having knowledge of the natural consequences. I would add to that possessing the fortitude to consistently act in the positive.
The reason for these seemingly mundane and boring recitals of definition is to attempt to give context to a thunderously serious concept which forms the most important, basic and fundamental fiber in the fabric of human relations. "Now," say you of the unknowing, uncaring, or unpracticing; "what warrants all of this hyperbole about a term which so many of us in modern society find unfamiliar, discomforting, distasteful, unattractive, or, just plain downright unfair?" This is the cut to the chase: Responsibility is the currency with which we buy freedom.
First, though, a reminder of an old saw: Freedom isn't free. Here is how it works. The founding fathers handed us the greatest socio-economic improvement device ever concieved as the basis for the formation and operation of this country. Their responsibility ended up being the first payment on our freedom. They primed the pump, started the ball rolling. Their responsibility to work or fight or die to craft such an organization as the United States of America was forged into the first incarnation of a government that was to be SUBSERVIENT to it's citizens and controlled by them for the intended purpose of protecting the newly unleashed freedom. They had witnessed tyranny and were determined that the scourge would never again in their lives take root among them. They prevented that by limiting the powers of government. That was accomplished by accepting for themselves the responsibility for the powers not given the government.
Now, those of you who cannot imagine what life would be in this day and age without government this or that in your lives are wondering just exactly where on Earth the responsibility for those functions would lie if not for it. Here's how they solved it in the late 1700's: They reserved the powers, and, responsibilities, to THEMSELVES. They provided their own retirement. They provided their own healthcare. They provided charity to those who had legitimately fallen on hard times. They provided education for their children. They developed their own specialized skills and fit them into an economy they created. They fed, clothed, sheltered, and transported themselves. Therefore, they did not have to depend on, or, answer to anyone else for whatever they chose to do or how they did it. They used morality and logic to govern their actions. Lots of hard work, that responsibility for themselves. But it always bought more freedom.
Anyone that has managed to pry themselves away from "ESPN" or "MTV" or "reality TV" or any of various vices and personal dramas might be mildly aware that there has been for over sixty years in this country a concerted effort to restrict freedom that has been presented as at first benevolent, then benign, then, as the bureaucracy unfolds and multiplies exponentially, necessary to the health and welfare of the proletariat. How did this come about? The answer is stunningly simple and obvious. Politicians, in quest of power, which only source was the people of this country, hit upon the idea that many of those people were tired of the work involved in the production of the responsibility they needed to purchase freedom. So, naturally appealing to the lazy side of human nature, they decided to eliminate as much freedom as possible to obviate the need for all that nasty hard work of maintaining an account full of responsibility.
Responsibility has qualities that compare to energy in physics as well. It can be converted to other forms, but, it cannot be destroyed. It can also be wasted. So, what happened to the responsibility that was no longer needed? The politicians said that their minions would assume it and care for it for the people, but that is not entirely the case. Much of it has been converted in that reactor that is modern government back into a different, dangerous form of power. Power, formerly vested in the governed, converted to responsibility to maintain the ability to acquire a supply of personal freedom is instead diverted and wasted by re-converting it through the pork-barrel to political power. Problem is, it is in this incarnation a Ponzi scheme, benefitting only a few political crooks.
But, lack of freedom does not eliminate the requirements of responsibility. It had merely been transferred to a pigeon hole. So, to ultimately deal with it, politicians return to their only source of anything, the people, and, in a sleazy shell game of redistributing wealth for votes, force more responsibility upon and out of them in the form of tax, which is then directly converted to more political power. You're right. That's not really dealing with it. It's just creating a responsibility deficit and then kicking it all down the road. But, the politicians, like crack addicts, can't resist, so they don't care.
Wasted responsibility. Lost freedom. Basic physics. So simple, a child could understand. So, why do so many fall for the scheme? Another simple answer: No one else cares either.
Freedom is necessary, but unchecked political power is not. And enough disinterest in responsibility, or those it's forfeited to, will loose freedom for everyone.
So, how are those Steelers doing, and, is Oprah still gaining weight?