I saw this painted on a building a few days ago, and it stopped me in my tracks.
And it made me think about my daughters, and all the daughters. Physical safety and protection. And then generally about responsibility, not solely in regard to a woman’s right to feel safe in her own body and in her environment, but also about general ethical responsibility. Civic responsibility. Personal responsibility.
Most of the speeches at my daughter’s graduation last week, and of probably every graduation ever, focused on the responsibility of this generation to go forward into this big wide world and make it better. So as we sat around our celebratory table Thursday night, after the ceremonies were over, my children and their cousins and the parents made toasts and speeches of congratulations and began to discuss this very issue—responsibility.
The younger generation were pretty clear; they resented the message that it was their job to fix the mistakes of the previous generations. Not fair, they said. A cop out, they said. It was as if, they said, we were just throwing our hands up and conceding defeat. And not taking responsibility. I see where they are coming from. But I also have the perspective of age. I have experienced trying to fix things and some of my plans turned out marvelously and some failed.
I am no historian or sociologist; I am a literature nerd and lover of life and what I’ve learned is that responsibility starts with me. Before I point my finger at injustice and hatred, I have to look within my own heart. Do I harbor anger, judgment, resentment? Do I bury my pain? Am I afraid to say sorry? Am I unwilling to forgive myself? It’s so easy to point the finger, but really it starts with me. It starts with accepting my light and dark sides, my strengths and challenges, my greatest successes and biggest failures. It starts with accepting my humanity, and then I can work on myself. As Carl Rogers said, It wasn’t until I accepted myself that I was free to change.
When we accept ourselves, when we take responsibility for all of our-selves, we begin to soften our gaze, become less judgmental. And realize that many, not all of course, but many are really trying in their own ways also to take responsibility for themselves and their families and communities. And maybe it’s less about handing off the baton to the younger generation and saying, ok we messed up; your turn. And instead holding hands, all of us, all the different generations and learning from each other. Helping each other. Forgiving each other. Caring for one another.
And back to the above painting about women I saw; YES, obviously YES. Couldn’t have said it better.
2 thoughts on “Responsibility”
TRUTH!! Thank you so much for doing what you do!
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You too xo