My goddaughter was running through a playground, she tripped, fell and hurt herself. To be fair, I think she mostly got a fright from the fall, rather than got properly hurt, nonetheless she was upset and crying.
It wasn’t my fault though, so why should I bother to do anything?
It is cringey to even think that I would consider leaving a two year old to just bawl on the ground because ‘It’s not my fault’, when the truth is; as someone who cares, is there and is in a position to help, it is my responsibility to do so.
In philosophy the utilitarian dilemma is based largely around when and where the limit of responsibility ends. I think that as it stands right now, we need to improve our conversation around where responsibility begins.
It’s time to re-frame responsibility not as a burden, but as a privilege. To take responsibility is to take you part in positive improvements and forward movement in all areas of life. To live in a world where you relish every moment to contribute, even in small ways, is to live in a world full of wonderful possibility.
Climate change isn’t wholly my fault, and yet it is my responsibility to do what I can to alleviate it.
First nations dispossession, inequality and disadvantage isn’t directly my fault, and yet it is my responsibility to work to level the playing field.
It is not my fault that there are children growing up in poverty, without education, food, medicine and safe environments, and yet I will gladly take responsibility to work relentlessly to improve the lives of those children.
It is not my fault that there are hundreds of thousands of Australians living below the poverty line, that millions are without basic necessities across the globe. Gross inequalities in the western and developing world are not my fault. It is not my fault that people live in isolation, that millions of people suffer from stress, anxiety, despair and a lack of agency in their lives. It is not my fault that the temperature of the planet continues to rise and that thousands of species of animals have been wiped out in the last century. None of these things are ‘my fault’, and yet they represent a chance for me to take responsibility. Not take responsibility for everyone, or for solving all of the problems at once, or for solving them completely on my own (it is not possible to solve them solo), but I can take responsibility for what I do to improve them. I can look for every opportunity to take responsibility for moving the needle in the correct direction on all of these issues and more.
Responsibility falls on the shoulders of ‘those who can’. If you are fortunate enough to be one of those people, or one of those organisations ‘who can’, then you must take that responsibility. Be humbled by the great gift that it is to be able to take responsibility. Be excited by the opportunity that your hard work, privilege and position present to you. Find motivation in the chance to develop ‘those that can’t right now’, into part of the team of ‘those who can’.
Your capacity to be generous, your connection to the people and communities around you, your ability to positively impact the world and our legacy as a moment in time are all tied to our appetite to take responsibility for creating a world full of people ‘who can’ and people ‘who do’.
Just because something isn’t your fault, doesn’t mean it isn’t your responsibility.
If you can, you must… And if you’re reading this. You can.
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Just Be Nice
A collection of articles relevant to pursuing the effective execution of altruism in the search for equality of opportunity.