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Melissa Lombard
 
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The “8th Virtue”

06 March 2014, 19:08

Responsibility…A morally valuable character trait.

Society has come to that point where everyone has a right and no-one has a responsibility.

Being accountable for your actions, has become such a rare quality that it may even be considered a superpower.

Earlier this week a friend and I fleetingly broached the subject of responsibility and have come to the conclusion, that the majority of people find it difficult to take responsibility for themselves let alone for those around them.  As an upstanding member of a community, are you not required to be a responsible person, and where does this sense of responsibility come from?

What are we teaching our children about responsibility?

We have a moral responsibility to teach our children that all actions have positive or negative reactions.  Children are literally getting away with “murder” these days (look at the little girl (8) who was bullied and beaten to death by her peers).  Where does this disregard for another human life come from? Surely 8 year old children are not born vicious… The fault lies with us, the adults, the role models.

We have the responsibility to conduct ourselves in such a way as to set a good example for our youth.  If we respect the people around us, teach the value of life to our children and behave in an honorable way, then our children will follow in our footsteps.  It is our responsibility to ensure that our children grow up in a safe, positive environment.

Earlier this year there was an incident abroad, where a 13year old boy raped his little sister after watching porn on his Xbox. Now I ask you this: Whose responsibility is it to teach this child about right and wrong, about dignity, about love and respect for his sister and females in general? With our busy lifestyles, parents spend less time with their kids, we shirk our responsibility of spending time with our children in order to teach them to become upstanding citizens and to limit what we allow them exposure to.

We don’t do the actual work of raising them to become upstanding members of society, but rather compensate our time and guidance with gifts. When you have a child, you have a responsibility to raise him/her, by spending time with and guiding them, and by being aware of what they are exposed to when we are not with them.

The act of taking personal responsibility should be instilled from childhood. This is however easier said than done. Popular culture, is teaching our youth that if it’s not fun, you don’t have to do it, breeding adults with a sense of entitlement and a disregard for authority. In school for instance, the parent blames the teacher, the teacher blames the parents and the child blames both the teacher and the parents for that poor mark on a math test.

Instead of teaching our children to take responsibility (and study for that test), we prefer the easy route, the path of least resistance…. Blame someone else…. By teaching our children that responsibility can be powerful and rewarding (studying for that test, and getting that "A"), we are better preparing them for the adult world.

After a few years in school, learning to shift the blame, we send these young adults into the job market.  They find their first job and have a rude awakening “O, No!! Here, I actually have to take responsibility for myself .” Blaming your co-workers, superiors etc. does not work so well in the business environment. 

Not having learnt responsibility as children, they cannot cope in the working environment where the blame-game (blame the parents, blame the teachers, blame the education system, blame the government), is less effective, so they eventually end up drifting aimlessly from one job to another.

What are we teaching our sons and daughters about happiness?  It is our responsibility to teach them to be strong, happy, self-sufficient adults who do not need the validation of others to feel worthwhile.  Instead of being responsible for cultivating children with strong values and a positive self image, we concentrate on other less important things (my job). 

Children who have not been taught that they are valuable seek affection in the wrong places, and sometime even end up depressed, falling in with the wrong crowd or even committing suicide over trivial things like a break-up.  It is up to us to raise strong, happy, responsible, wise individuals.

I am also saddened by the fact that we still lash out at each other based on discriminatory factors.  As we are part of a greatly diverse nation, it is our responsibility to learn and respect the customs, religions, traditions, beliefs and rules of those who inhabit this beautiful planet with us.  Today every second argument has a racial base. 

We have lost the ability to address problems because we are too busy blaming someone else (If it wasn’t for apartheid, yada yada yada…) 

It is also our responsibility to demand a “responsible government”. The decisions our leaders make, filter down all the way to the very bottom of our society. If we allow our leaders to be “racist” “greedy” “irresponsible” “frauds”, we will never have a strong, unified nation. We need to start holding ourselves and our leaders responsible and to a higher standard.

Let’s start to take responsibility for ourselves. Let every man take responsibility for himself, let parents take responsibility for their children, let employees take responsibility for their work and let citizens take responsibility for obeying the law.

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