Is Personal Responsibility an Outdated Concept?

dog cleaning up mess

It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote my last blog post. I’ve been really busy, and I’m fighting an inflection that’s sapped all my energy, and… and… and…  I just can’t bring myself to take personal responsibility for the fact that I procrastinated and prioritized other tasks over writing. Why should I take responsibility for my lack of action when leaders and public figures treat personal responsibility as an outdated concept?

George Bernard Shaw said, “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”  Increasingly, it feels as though we’re in a societal shift away from personal responsibility… a shift toward freedom without responsibility. From our top leaders to the most vulnerable in society, there seems to be acceleration toward excuses and blame, toward responsibility avoidance. If Shaw is right, in order to be free individuals we have to be willing to accept the responsibility of our actions—to admit our mistakes and work to solve our own problems.

One of the things I love about the good men in my life is their ability, their actual willingness, to take personal responsibility. They apologize when they’re wrong. They clean up their own messes and seem genuinely sorry when someone they love is pulled into that clean up. Whether it’s mud on the floor or a catastrophic personal choice, they step up and do their best to fix the problem. Good men understand a pivotal part of strength is the willingness to face problems and solve them. But it’s impossible to solve something when you feel no sense of responsibility.

Ultimately, on a personal level, the answer to my first paragraph question “Why should I take responsibility?” will be a strong predictor of my future writing outcomes.  The way I answer that question will directly affect my choices, my beliefs, and my future.

Ultimately, the way our country, our leaders, our fellow citizens answer that question will predict the future of our country. Will we be brave enough to retain liberty and accept personal responsibility? Or will we elect leaders and idolize individuals who encourage avoidance and blame? Our society will ultimately have to choose—do we believe personal responsibility is valuable or do we view it as an outdated concept.


About Jenell Hollett

I have the privilege of writing and speaking about families. We all have them and we all know the joys and challenges that come with being part of a family. By sharing my experiences and the lessons I learned from those experiences, I bring laughter, courage, and hope to audiences facing joys and challenges of their own.
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