Taking Personal Responsibility
Give a person a crutch that he didn’t need and he will develop a limp that he didn’t have. ~ William Jenkins
Personal responsibility is to be accountable for your behavior and situation. In a Democracy, every adult is ultimately responsible for himself/herself. Regardless of how helpful and supportive your parents are to you, eventually you will become an adult and will need to take full responsibility for yourself. Adults will only respect other healthy adults who take care of themselves.
Our responsibility to the rest of society is to not burden them with things we should take care of. Americans have never liked free loaders. Our spirit of independence demands that we pay our own way and we respect those who pay their way.
You should learn to be independent, for as you get older, the respect you get from the rest of society will be partly determined by how well you take personal responsibility for the things that rightly fall to you. Personal responsibility is essential in a democracy. It is also essential to getting along with others without a lot of conflict. The majority of the social conflicts I have witnessed between adults have involved one of the two not taking responsibility for something he/she should have.
Taking personal responsibility goes far beyond simply taking care of your material needs; it also means taking responsibility for your behavior by conducting yourself properly and admitting when you have done wrong. In some cases it may mean amending (making up for) for your wrong with apologies or compensation. Americans don’t like people who pass their responsibilities on to others.
People of good character take responsibility for themselves and their actions. They do for themselves the things that are theirs to do, and don’t pass that responsibility on to others. When they have to turn to others for things, they turn to those with whom they have the proper relationship to expect those things. They also make sure that the people they turn to could turn to them for similar favors.
It is bad character to seek favors from people for whom you wouldn’t do favors. You should be very careful getting favors from people who have lifestyles of which you disapprove. When you get favors from people who are doing things you don’t like, you put yourself in the position of having to help them do those things. If they support you, they will expect you to support them, and rightly so. So, when possible, get the things you want from the people who are doing the things you like. And be aware that, “Birds of a feather flock together not just because they fly in the same direction, but also because they fly at the same speed and altitude.”
When you have good character and make mistakes, you have to own up to them. You have to do your own chores, do your own homework, and pay your own debts. If you are a young person, you may be tempted to let your parents do more for you than they should, or let others do things for you that they shouldn’t, but if you want to be respected as a responsible person, you’ll have to do certain things for yourself. If you don’t take personal responsibility you’ll eventually be seen as a bum rather than a person of high character. And remember, it is very difficult for people, even your parents, to respect you as an adult if they have to take care of you as they would a child.
Rules to Live By
1. Never have others do for you that which you should do for yourself.
2. Know the terms under which persons do things for you.
3. Never turn your duties over to someone else.
4. Do your own homework.
5. Wash your own dishes.
6. Clean your own room.
7. Own up to your mistakes and pay for them if you have to.
8. Write your own “thank you” notes.
9. Make your own apologies.
10. Pay your fair share when eating out with friends.
Character in Daily Life
Jeff was told specifically by his father to have the car back at 11:30 and he agreed he would. Jeff picked up two of his friends and they proceeded to have an evening of fun. They convinced Jeff to stay out past midnight. When Jeff arrived home his dad was standing in the door waiting for him.
What do you think Jeff’s dad did?
What should he have done?
How should Jeff have handled his friends?