“If humanity does not opt for integrity we are through completely. It is absolutely touch and go. Each one of us could make the difference.”–R. Buckminster Fuller
The Blame Game has been popular for as long as people have existed. It’s easy to understand why this is. The Blame Game is easy to play–all the player needs to do is refuse personal responsibility for one’s life and choose a scapegoat. Whenever something unpleasant or harmful happens, just blame it on someone else. Blame it on your partner, your siblings, on fate. The choices are endless.
The most egregious and obvious lame excuse of my childhood happened when I was a fifth grader. The extreme stupidity of it is why I remember the incident. I had failed to do my homework for an important group project. When the teacher asked why my work had not been turned in, I said the dog had destroyed the papers. I don’t know why I used that excuse. Our family did not even have a dog. Right after I told the fib, I regretted it. The teacher’s look of disdain is one I’ll never forget.
I can still blame the fact of being an eleven-year-old boy for that lapse of personal responsibility. Not only had I disappointed the teacher, I disappointed myself. It would have been great if that incident would have been the last time I failed to take responsibility for my actions. Of course it wasn’t. In hindsight, my dishonesty was humorous because I used a time-worn cliché. After all, isn’t self-deprecating humor funny and useful?
“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes; and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”–Eleanor Roosevelt
Regardless of whether one has to decide whether or not to tell a lie in childhood, or if one is in charge of a nation, we are called upon to make choices each day. Regardless of prior or present circumstances beyond our control, a person of integrity owns his or her choices. Anything less than complete ownership reflects on one’s character and trustworthiness. The integrity that comes from personal responsibility is a result of someone who has been willing to grow up. The individual who strives to carry his own weight is a reassuring and inspirational person.
One of my uncles often reminded me that a person is fully an adult when you take full responsibility for your decisions and actions. At the same time you do not judge nor blame others or yourself. This statement is one of those truly profound reflections on life. It’s simple to conceptualize but not always easy to carry out. It’s the simple practice of taking responsibility that enables us to improve our circumstances and to provide stability for those who depend upon us.
“He who would pass his declining years with honor and comfort, should, when young, consider that he may one day become old, and remember when he is old, that he has once been young.”–18th century essayist, poet, play-write and politician, Joseph Addison
In the end, accepting responsibility helps assure a positive legacy. One can reflect upon one’s life with a sense of authentic satisfaction. A personally accountable life is a life well lived.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. “The key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger, attachment, fear and suspicion, while love, compassion and a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness.”