~ Soren Kierkegaard
Existential therapy offers a solution for social loafing: personal accountability. It’s very common for people to demand others be more accountable. But if we’re honest with ourselves, many times we’re actually saying, “Take responsibility for this so I don’t have to.” The personal accountability of one person neither decreases nor increases our personal accountability. Louis Hoffman wrote “Self-acceptance too often is intertwined with attempts to rationalize ourselves as being right or justified in our mistakes instead of embracing our humanity as imperfect creatures. Authentic self-acceptance requires that we are honest with ourselves about responsibility. Instead of seeking to justify our mistakes, we embrace them” (A Cultural Crisis of Responsibility: Responding to a Denial of Our Humanity).
Waiting for someone else to take responsibility for a situation is a way to ensure we have no responsibility. In order to become more empowered we are forced to accept responsibility for the things we have done, and the things we have left undone. By no means should this imply that everything is our fault; far from it. But it does mean that if we want the world we live in to be better, we can no longer wait for others to make changes.
The reason the smoke detector doesn’t go back up where it belongs is, ultimately, because I don’t put it back. As tumultuous as our country is currently, there are many situations and people who deserve to have fingers pointed at them. If I am not willing to point that finger at myself and begin asking what I can do, I only serve to give away my power.
(C) 2018 Nathan D. Croy