‘We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.’
-George Bernard Shaw
With a title like ‘responsibility’ the urge to shrink away and hide under a blanket may be strong for many of us; but I will try my best not to make this an article that mirrors an outdated educational video. Firstly, it is probably important to notice that on closing this word document I will return home to meet unwashed dishes, slowly moulding towels draped carelessly over chairs and a carpet that has been decorated with the remnants of oatcakes that tragically never completed their journey to my mouth.
Recently, while searching through the internet, there seemed to be a certain type of article that came up frequently. Examples being: ‘how to tell if your ex is a narcissist?’, ‘are you living with a psychopath?’, ‘how to tell if your friend is toxic?’, ‘Is my partner using me?’, ‘how to tell if that guy on the bus is a jerk?’, ‘is my cat hiding my keys?’ and ‘is my grandma plotting to fatten me up for market?’. It’s true there may be dangerous, or just rather irritating, people in our lives that we have to know how to deal with. Also, for a lot of people it can be difficult to realise that someone in your life is having a terrible effect on you. People can drain you, influence you badly and hurt you: it happens all the time, hence the overflow of articles.
But there seems to be a lack of is articles proclaiming: I am a jerk/ bully/liar (so this doesn’t seem to add up). It’s not that self- pity should be encouraged and, really, the reason this doesn’t happen is: who wants to identify their self that way? Everyone feels vulnerable: you could be having a difficult time personally and treat others badly. Or possibly it was just a case of misunderstanding; there are always reasons behind why people act badly. And while we influence each other all the time, inevitably misunderstandings will happen and people will be hurt.
Still, the urge to blame should always be checked, and noticing the part you took in a disagreement or misunderstanding is important. Vitally, we all must notice a bad influence we have caused or a time when we have hurt someone else. I have a range of these: times when I’ve been tired, rude, selfish and careless to people. Before we start blowing up the pity party balloons (because that doesn’t help anyone) the main reason to remember our own wrongdoings and take responsibility is to know when to apologise; when to alter our behaviour; to be able to see the humanity in others, and to free ourselves from the idea that our surroundings are ruling us.
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