Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What are the factors that make responsibility feel like a burden to some, while like an opportunity to others?

How we understand the subject/object of our responsibility will dictate the extent to which it is a burden or opportunity.

If we believe we are responsible primarily for what goes on around us we have chosen a burdensome task. We may also see it to be one full of opportunity but the opportunities are in other people and we are doomed to discover at some point in time we can exercise no responsibilities over others.

Alternatively if we believe we are responsible individually, for ourselves, that reduces the scope to something manageable. Of course our first responsibility is to let others (assuming they are able) look after themselves so we can retain that focus on ourselves. This is not selfish. To the contrary, when we take responsibility for ourselves we do the world a favor. The challenge is to learn who we really are, as opposed to whomever we have been conditioned to believe we are. When we know ourselves then we have the opportunity to freely respond to others without agenda or prejudice. The effect is to be able to contribute with empathy, justice and love.

Unfortunately, despite the burden that goes with taking responsibility for others, this can be our preference because it allows us to continue the pretense of having taken responsibility for ourselves and having time and energy to spare for others. When responsibility is a burden it is one we have chosen to carry. When we notice responsibility feels like a burden, that's when the opportunity arises to take greater responsibility for ourselves.

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