Finding responsibility

Sometimes people find refuge in nonsense when avoiding responsibility. Wasn’t it a character in a Shakespeare play who said, “There is nothing, neither right nor wrong but thinking makes it so.”

That’s a convenient rationale when you’re between a rock and a hard place. Another quotation to be wary of, it comes in handy when you know what you want, but don’t know how to get it is; “The ends justify the means.” It helps many a tyrant. It will take a lot of explaining for me to understand why, “The exception just proves the rule.” How does that make sense? It’s surprising how often one hears these things used by otherwise intelligent people.

Quoting Webster on responsibility, “Expected or obliged to account for something, to someone” and further “able to distinguish between right and wrong, and to think and act rationally, and hence accountable for one’s behavior.” No creature on earth has the capacity for responsibility except humans. Only humans have the ability to fully understand the meaning of right and wrong. It is part of the fact that humans are mutually supportive. We must be able to depend on one another. To shirk responsibility is to diminish one’s humanity.

People who have little sense of responsibility are hardly mature humans. They are more likely immature children, no matter what their chronological age. It may be the responsibility of society to take care of its adult children, who seem incapable of managing their own lives, but if so, it must be done on our terms not theirs. To allow oneself to be ruled by the immature is the height of immaturity. When we see politicians openly avoid their responsibilities to the public and/or their political duties and then we-re-elect them to continue their political career, it must indicate a great deal of adult immaturity in the public at large.

I recently had the displeasure of undergoing a double angioplasty for a heart artery that was blocked completely. This is being followed by monitored testing and regular rehab conditioning. I have been tenderly treated by surgeons, and a great number of exceptional nurses who were expert in their areas. As they dealt daily with a never ending line of new patients that came through their department assembly line style, for one angioplasty after another, they never let what must become dull routine to them, affect their awareness that this endless line of patients were each and every one going through a tense drama in their lives, perhaps even facing its termination.

These professionals had all submitted to long periods of training and discipline to be able to perform this needed service to the rest of us, to both the responsible, and the irresponsible. They are typical of what we see in so many walks of life by law abiding, mature, productive people. Where would civilization be without responsible people, who work to give their lives meaning?

The freedoms allowed to the citizenry in this country have proven to be a breeding ground for the development of great progress to civilization, not just in this country, but around the world. We are despised by those who seek power over others, i.e. the Godless who pretend to know better than God what is good for us. The truest indicator of the tyrant is his inability to accept for himself that which he puts upon his subjects. (Kind of sounds like our congress doesn’t it).

I’m old enough to remember in vivid detail how America saved the whole world from a despot who was attempting to conquer and rule the world with what he declared to be a superior race of people. Throughout the ages mankind has been slowly growing in its appreciation of what an adult human is. The closer we get to that reality, the more desperate the would-be-God-replacement conquerors get. Until we reach an age where maturity becomes a commonly accepted reality, we must not allow the despots, the raging, conniving children, to have their way. May God bless America.

Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to