Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How Do You Develop Responsibility?

One of the things that bugs me about current US society is the urge that those who make the rules seem to feel to protect us all from ourselves.  Friends from overseas exclaim over all the fences and railings in our parks - designed to keep us from falling over the precipices (and then suing).  We have devices and services to help us prevent our children from seeing inappropriate things on tv or the internet.  We have warning labels on everything.  We have very specific rules about what kinds of weapons we can have or not (did you know that nunchuks are illegal in quite a few states?).  Oh - and motorcycle helmet laws!  And seatbelt laws.  And now, perhaps, we will have mandatory health insurance purchase (in many places auto insurance is already mandatory).

Part of the difficulty, I think, is that we are not willing to accept the consequences of our actions.  We want someone else to pay.  And if we insist that someone else pay, then perhaps someone else has the right to say, well, then maybe YOU shouldn't be doing that.

And what makes us willing to accept the consequences of our actions?  I guess it could be guilt, or a sense of obligation or inevitability.  Ha - just kidding.  Acutally, I think it's respect - primarily self-respect.  If we respect ourselves, we won't be making decisions with consequences we can't handle (in general - there are always potential exceptions).  And the only way we learn this is by practice - starting when we're young and our parents begin letting us do for ourselves, developing and expanding our responsibility as we mature.

Here's a breakdown of different kinds of respect, from the DTMMS site: http://dtmms.org/readingroom/7values/refinement_of_character.htm.

Does this make sense to you?  How have YOU gone about developing responsibility and maturity?  Who were/are your role models?  What was the hardest thing you've learned so far about maturity?