I was pondering on two words the other day, respect and responsibility. Actually, this started when I was trying to spell the two words. My word processor is set so that it checks spelling while I type. I typed responsibility as “reponsibility” and respect as “repect.” Spell-check caught both of them, but as I corrected them, I started thinking about how the two words can fit together and form an interesting thought. Respecting responsibility. Uhmmmm! Responsible respect. Uhmmm!
Respect and Responsibility are two of the pillars of character presented by the Josephson Institute of Ethics. Now, if we turn the two words onto themselves and apply them to ourselves, we have a nice concept for self-improvement. In other words, apply the concepts behind the words to ourself and in this case, not to someone else. Self-respect and “self-responsibility” – where the person works toward self-improvement by concentrating on those two “pillars” and applying them to her/himself.
OK, how do we apply this? Well, when in doubt go to the meaning of each word.
First, let’s work on respect. Respect, as a verb, is: to hold something in high regard. If we apply that to self-respect, then we need to hold ourselves in high regard. How do we do that? That’s a difficult question for me so I will address it by illustrating how NOT to hold ourselves in high regard. We should NOT abuse ourselves, NOT think harmful thoughts, NOT be in a bad environment and NOT, NOT, ….
I don’t want you to get the wrong idea with the use of all of these “nots.” There is no way most of us can expect to be perfect by avoiding all of the things that cause us not to respect ourselves, but I think we should always have that as our ultimate goal.
Now, let’s work on responsibility. Responsibility is the state or fact of being responsible. Responsible is: being answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power, control, or management. Definitely we should take responsibility for ourselves. Who else should, once we are an adult? How do we do this? Let’s do the same thing here that we did with respect.
How do we not take responsibility? Easy, when we are not responsible, we are not answerable/accountable for something that is within our power, control, etc. Therefore, take responsibility for those things that are within our power, control, etc.. Be accountable for those things within your power!
I once read a book that suggested that we should “choose freely” while we think critically and live creatively. When I first read that, I thought we should not choose freely because we may make bad choices. After reading further I discovered the author, John Chaffee, meant for us to choose freely AND take responsibility for our choice. Since then, I have used that as a way of life for myself.
What do you think?