Blame & Responsibility

“Every problem you have is your responsibility, regardless of who caused it.”

David Cain

That’s the danger of distorting words, the danger of words changing throughout the ages. There are many concepts that we only know through words. And sometimes words converge, and we lose useful meanings.

Responsibility used to be something of value, something to be trusted to people of value. To have responsibility was to have power – it was to be recognized (or to self-recognize) as competent, as in control of destiny – as a person with self-determination.

But over the years, responsibility has become a dirty word. Something to throw at others’ faces. “You’re responsible for [something bad]!”

Responsibility is not the same as blame. But we made it sound like it is. We misused the word, and saw the word to be misused, and did not correct the error, and now an entire generation does not know the true meaning of responsibility – and so it runs away from it.

And woe unto him who dares say that a victim – victimised by another person, or by an illness, or an accident – is responsible for their situation! What heresy! Have these people not suffered enough?

But they are responsible. We all are. No one can fix our lives, our sorrows, for us. Even incurable diseases or irreparable hurts – are they the responsibility of the sick and the hurt?

They are. It’s not their fault – never that! – but it is their responsibility to confront the situation.

We are responsible for our problems. We have to be. Other people? They have their own.

Painting: “The Deluge” by Michelangelo Buonarroti