04 May 2005

Pesonal Resposibility

No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible. ~ Voltaire

My therapist and I talked about personal responsibility last week. I told her that the willingness to take responsibility for one's own actions is probably one of the greatest predictors of the type of relationship I have with someone.

Everything that ever happened in my dad's life was somebody else's fault. He beat up his first wife and got sent to the brig? That was her fault for giving their son a name he expressly forbade her to give him. He beat up my mom? Well, he was just trying to teach her. I could go on, but it would just make me angry.

The point is that, for me, being an adult requires accountability. I acknowledge that I may sometimes take that position too far. Whenever anything goes wrong, I take stock of my behavior in the situation and, if I can identify even a scintilla of responsibility, I own it. To everyone. Sometimes that gets me in some difficult situations because the people who are primarily responsible for some catastrophe are often quite willing to allow me to take the blame.

I worked with a woman several years ago who betrayed my trust and confidence. I was willing to continue to be her friend, but only if she apologized and accepted responsibility for her behavior. Unfortunately, she was unwilling to even consider that she might have behaved badly. Not only that, but she was too cowardly to talk to me about it directly. She sent me an email and then left for a two week vacation. We continued to work together and I continued to be cordial (in a professional, non-personal way) to her, but we could never be friends again.

Several people who worked with me at the same time knew that would be my position on the matter. Some of them acted like they thought I was Mussolini. I often encounter people who think it's an unreasonable position to take, despite the fact that they are more than willing to allow me to be accountable. I don't get it.

America held hostage day 1309
Bushism of the day:
"These people don't have tanks. They don't have ships. They hide in caves. They send suiciders out."
Source: Federal News Service, "Remarks by President George W. Bush At Welcome Rally," Nov. 1, 2002

Website of the day: Addicted to Hate

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