Some of my readers may know that I graduated college in December 2015. I went in as single mom in my mid 30’s and graduated right before I turned 40. Recently, I have been re-organizing my work space and started reading some of my olde papers. This piece was one of my first college papers. The quote below came from the reading I did for this paper. I am so grateful for the experience, because it has given me so much more to bring to the world.
Personal Responsibility is the Answer to a Better Tomorrow
“Violence teaches only violence. Stress teaches only stress. If you clean up your mental environment, we’ll clean up our physical one much more quickly. That’s how it works,” Byron Katie states in “The World Doesn’t Need to Be Saved” Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World (191). Why are fear tactics being used to create changes in the world? Why is there such an attraction to pointing fingers outward instead of looking at what oneself is personally responsible for? Many people are willing to point the finger at government, schools, churches, and organizations, but the problem is having someone else to blame. We are a global community, and we all must take personal responsibility in order to change our selves, our community, and our environment for the better.
The first step is to take responsibility for one’s self. This is where it all begins. The media, politicians, family, and people who surround a person play a big part in how he or she sees the world. Many of these sources teach people that the responsibility of their problems is someone else’s fault. There is always enough blame to go around. The answer is in not focusing on who is to blame. My mother taught me, “Nobody can make you feel anything.” She demanded personal responsibility for my actions, choices, and feelings. If I reacted out of anger, it is not the other person’s fault. There is only one place to look for blame and that is in the mirror. One must choose to live a life empowered by choices over being victim of others. In this realization there is compassion, love, acceptance, tolerance, forgiveness, and gratitude. In “Embodying Change” Cheryl Pallant states, “We see how the world ‘out there’ filters and reflects our inner world; conversely, our inner world impacts the outer world. The two are intimately twine” (187).
Who am I to judge the “outer world” that I created? What does my “outer world” say about how I live? Personal responsibility starts with self. When people get to this place they start operating from a place of awareness. They start to see the facts and see how their actions contribute to the problem. This leads an individual to acceptance of where he or she is right now. Only when the first two elements are accomplished action can be taken. This action is guided by a place of calm. Each individual is empowered because changing is his or her choice. This is how it is possible to attract others to one’s cause. People can be inspired from a positive place or a negative place. A loving place is the only way a loving change will occur. Energy will just get lost in the toxic fumes of one’s emotions if the path of fear is chosen.
The next step is personal responsibility in community. Every living thing is a part of a global community. Everything on this planet has a part to play. A few examples of life that contributes naturally are plants, trees, bacteria, animals, and microorganisms. Humans start life contributing naturally, but then all the outside contributors come in creating separation from the natural world and other people. This is the beginning of the conflict with community. When a person separates themselves from others, he or she creates one party as right and one party as wrong. The power of community comes from awareness that every person on the planet has at least one thing in common, every one lives on the Earth together. The more similarities that are looked for, the more that can be found. This creates a much larger community.
The next part in the process is to accept the differences of the other community members. No one on this planet is perfect. Each person may teach a wonderful lesson if others can look at the contribution with love. Even people who some might be judged a “horrible human-being” has contributed something to the planet. People may think he or she is bad, but the lessons of compassion, empathy, sympathy, strength, courage, and love that come from what the person has done have purpose. Accepting does not mean agreeing with. It simply means the reality of the situation is known, and the only thing to do is to feel the feelings that come with it. This is when action comes into play. Something bad happened, but it brought a community together. Now, what can that community do to contribute to changes for the better? There are examples of this in churches, schools, support groups, and housing developments. All of these environments create amazing opportunities for community. The things that are accomplished when people work together are astounding. Things can go one way and create division among others or create so much love and expanded community. Those are the moments tears are brought to the eyes of many as they watch people and communities showing up for people who are hurting.
The more communities a person can become a part of without judgment of others, the more positive action comes from the community. The devastation that came to the US on September 11, 2001, is an example of this. After the event occurred, a beautiful community formed united in the healing from the event. Many people reached out from all over the world and stopped caring about the things that separated each other. Each person had a choice to be a part of this community or not. It is one’s personal responsibility to make the choice on being a part of the global community. Every person on the planet is invited. This community excludes no one. It is something we all have in common. Making the choice to be a part of a community is something a person has to feel drawn to, or the purpose it is meant to serve gets distorted.
The final area of personal responsibility is to the environment. This falls into place naturally when the other two areas are surrounded by energies that join people together instead of create separation. The more a person cares for self, the more he/ she cares for the community, and the more he/ she cares for the planet. Once the mental chaos has seized in the brain, it creates empowered thinking, and the environment gets cleaned up. An example of this is when I recently took a walk on the beach, and I cleared my head. The whole walk down the beach, I was angry, and I saw nothing. On the way back, my head was cleared, and now I was able to see there were things I could do. I picked up liter on the way back and when I got to the parking lot, I threw it out. I did not judge the people who tossed it down. I did not expect someone else to pick it up. I just did it. It was my job because I was there, and I saw it. That was all. If I see a problem and I have the ability to do something to fix it, my personal responsibility is to fix it.
Some groups think that the answer is in creating fear of the earth’s demise in order to get people to do what they want. This belief points fingers and deflects responsibility. Personal responsibility is the way to protect our planet. How is the change centered will determine which way it goes. Changes will continuously happen on the planet. The only question that a person needs to ask his or her self is, “What is my part?” The answer is, “If it is in front of me, it is my part.”
As a global community, personal responsibility has to come back to each individual. The focus needs to be on what the person in the mirror can do. Katie writes, “The most attractive thing about the Buddha was that he saved one person: himself. That’s all he needed to save; when he saved himself, he saved the whole world” (190). A chain reaction starts with one person, turns into a community, and changes the world.
Katie, Byron. “The World Doesn’t Need to Be Saved.” Keogh 188-192.
Keogh, Martin ed. Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World.t Berkley: North Atlantic Books, 2010. Print.
Pallant, Cheryl. “Embodying Change.” Keogh 183-187.
I hope you enjoyed the piece. Thank you for taking the time to read it.
With Love and Gratitude,