Oh no, Not responsibility!
Today was a good blogging day in that I received a comment on a post I wrote months ago about educational realities. I am encouraged when other people post their thoughts on my posts.
We live in a world that has a rather perverse concept of rights. My dictionary defines perverse as “showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences.” We actively question who can define the terms of reasonable and acceptable. My commentor suggested that the key place of authority relies on parents disciplining their children. I would contend that people waffle when trying to frame concepts of obligation.
Looking at good parenting provides an interesting springboard. I have gotten to know some families with fantastic children. Even just thinking about how awesome these kids are induces homesickness. It’s a rather impressive feat as I do not generally like children. But I have noticed that these children flourish under sound parenting. The more I watch people who can parent small children well, the more I conclude that obedience is a gift that has to be freely given. It is generally hard to demand obedience.
We have an instinctive, child-like reaction to commands we do not respect: “Oh yeah, make me!” We fight and claw and whine to avoid responsibility. Whether we learn obedience from our parents, from our churches, from our employers, from the legal system, or from [insert authority of choice], we always have the option to disregard authority when authority asks us to do something unpleasant.
We call this reaction our “rights.”
How does obedience function in adult life? We live in a world seemingly constructed to render this concept meaningless. Generally, people with the most money can manipulate the system such that the system serves the interest of the rich. We view intervening agents with suspicion, particularly if we assert that agent negates an individual’s rights.
Can we speak of obligation and responsibility in our societies?