Self-responsibility is something I hear coming out of my mouth more than I sometimes realise. It seems the most apt response to so many questions:
"How do you deal with personal dynamics in groups?"
"How do I get ahead in life?"
"How do I change the world?"
The following post explores what self-responsility might mean, and how we can embrace it individually and on the collective level.
Self: our individual being/unit. Response-able: our ability to respond to stimulous or crisis. This - our individual ability to respond to stimulous/crisis - is foundational to being human.
A recent conversation I had with my father helps to illustrate how I approach this topic. He advised me to be diligently conscious with my health because I don’t have private health insurance (in a country increasingly reliant on such). In short my lack of private health insurance is a lifestyle choice, because (a) I'm not sure I believe in the insurance industry, and (b) I'd rather save my income myself and dish it out for emergencies on an as-needed basis. My father's advise was offered in a loving yet cautionary sense, wanting me to avoid health challenges because of my current lifestyle choices.
My response to him was an emphatic YES, I TOTALLY AGREE - stay healthy and stay out of hospital and away from the doctor. This agreement came from a place less concerned about my capability to access health services, and more from a place of choice to take responsibility for my health and vitality. And I see this extending to the psycho-emotional health, just as much as it's application to physical health.
See, I’m not inspired to live with disregard of the consequences of my actions; especially when one's health is the primary topic. Relying on a system (in this case, the health system) to clean up my 'mess' (inherited or self-caused) isn’t a personal aspiration and it certainly ain’t sexy when I see it in others.
The primary tension I have with relying on a system to clean up one's mess is primarily that it seems to waste of creative potential. By not having the security of a surefire bail-out when the going gets tough, one is encouraged, and compelled, to be impeccable with their actions.
And this is where I’ve found creativity loves to thrive. It makes me think of a country like Brazil where I observe great amounts of creativity, along with collective and innovative action. Because it’s also a country with rife corruption and prolific hardship. Regardless of this almost token reference to the context of Brazil, their blend of dynamic political conditions, plentiful fertile space and a general zest for life allows niches of people to support and proliferate progressive movements like permaculture and avant-garde organisational governance at seemingly faster rates than in first world nations like Australia. The necessity to engage their creative collaborative brains is high, and therefore they harvest this calibre of creative output.
The other tension I have with relying on a system to clean up one’s mess is the perpetuation of disempowerment and disembodiment. Like a child who never learns to clean-up their play toys because their parents always did, those who look to the rescuing system to do the dirty work, despite their reckless (or just ignorant) living, will never learn to look after themselves.
(As I write this, I see similarities to the arguments of free-marketeers and corporate conservatives i.e. "Privatisation! Stop centralised public services". I don't relate or identify with this variety of ideology - yet a parallel exists. The difference between the two feels to be an awareness of deeper complexities. For example, the influence of inter-generational traumas reinforcing dysfunctional living conditions and tricky ingrained habits. Or the normalisation of industrial food production and pharmaceuticals without understanding the ecosystems or biological systems underpinning them. In the modern day economic climate, privatisation and decentralised services don't seem to have much incentive to address these these debilitating cycles, and therefore perpetuate the approach of trash your body/community/earth and someone will come to your rescue - which simply doesn't seem congruent with how the world works)
So where is this all leading?
It continues to tie back to the importance of choosing self-responsibilty - on both an individual and community level. When we know we're responsible (response-able) for the state of our body/community/earth, we're likely to be compelled to understand how it works and do our darnedest to caretake them effectively.
Having to live with good health because one wants to have good health (and perhaps because the safety net of health insurance isn’t available) is enriching and authenticating. It keeps a person versatile, connected to community, and intimate with what makes them tick. The deeper one chooses self-responsibility the more they're likely to create the regenerative, health and functional realities for which many of us dream.
And underpinning all of this is CHOICE - we choose to know, or we choose to be ignorant. We choose to build community systems for knowing and supporting each other; or we choose to live individual and disconnected realities. We choose to eat food contributing to vital health; or we choose to eat food creating conditions for dis-ease in our bodies and in the soils.
The trick is whether we're choosing the patterns that are regenerating of life, rather than depleting it.
Taking the road of self-responsibility through choice – in all areas of life – will lead to a regenerative reality more than any other.
You are the one you’ve been waiting for.
Time to stop waiting … and choose to turn up in Life.
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