Individual Responsibility

Hamlet (1996) – The film that made me detest and admire Shakespeare in equal measure.
Alas poor Yorick!

The older I get, the more politics seem to grate on me, and I feel myself longing for some type of controlled anarchy.

Before I come across as some type of chaos agent from Get Smart, what I specifically mean by that is a community that understands and values the core principles of individual responsibility.

Fundamental to that ideal, is the idea that you alone are responsible for what happens to you.

It places a greater pressure on yourself to be the very best version of you. It also implicitly blames you for your own choices, poor decisions and failures. There is no pinning the blame on others, on the world or some perceived slight against yourself.

You go through life, keenly aware that everything you do, you did for a reason.

You also fight complacency at almost every step, because you realise that you can’t really afford to make bad decisions without facing some type of consequence.

It breeds mindful people. People who understand that nothing they do can really be taken for granted, that the casual toss of rubbish here affects others, that your decision to snack on junk food today, will mean more tooth decay and adverse health benefits tomorrow.

A society where people are more aware of their own impact on themselves and others can only generate more positive outcomes to the broader community.

This doesn’t eliminate assholes of course, but then nothing ever will. There will always be people whose predilections and outlooks on life offend you. But they can be assholes with a purpose. They understand why they are behaving the way they are, and will actually have a reason why they do the things they do.

In other words, a person with legitimate reason for believing the things they do and can actually back themselves up, regardless of what atrocious or reasonable beliefs they may have.

So why did I use the words “controlled anarchy?”

Well beyond the shock value, and odd juxtaposition of definitions in those two words, I find that the two find a strange middle ground in terms of governance, with perhaps a slight lean towards anarchy.

I like the appeal behind anarchy, because it is all about self-reliance, and it strips away any pretension we might have about each other. It is raw, animalistic and probably the worst and most stressful way to live, because honestly, you’re not living …. you’re just surviving.

Which brings me to a crucial next point. Individual responsibility isn’t just about empowering your beliefs and values. It also helps highlight deficits you think you might have in life, especially with regards to personal health and skills.

Survival skills have been lacking in a lot of people recently. We are now less observant, less healthy, and less prepared than ever before. You can argue that in an urban environment you no longer need to navigate by the stars, or be able to pluck a chicken.

The counter-argument to that is of course, you still do need survival skills. Cars, bikes, construction work, there is still a prevalent need to develop awareness to avoid nasty accidents and injury.

But the most important issue that is being missed, is that old-fashioned wilderness skills are key to appreciating nature itself.

A greater appreciation of earth is never a bad thing, especially with how people treat their rubbish, food waste and daily consumption of goods. Survival skills help you understand and empathise with the living world around us, to help humble your ego and instill in you, a sense of mortality.

Mortality … a word that barely registers in our consciousness nowadays, but really should. We all think we are going to live forever with the advances of science and medicine, but I think the COVID-19 crisis has finally warned us, that we are very, very susceptible to death.

However, instead of reacting in a knee-jerk way, and celebrating the end of COVID-19, should there not be a greater and deeper reflection on the way how we live our lives? Should we not embrace the greater responsibility to self and work to improve and embrace more of the time we have left?

Where is the gratitude for surviving a plague?

Where is the drive to get healthier, to spend less, to see the positives effects of slowing down humanity’s progress to allow the Earth to catch up?

Instead we just chose to resume everything as normal again and ignore any net positives COVID might have taught us.

Individual responsibility is all about realising that change starts with yourself first. Take courage from that fact, because there is nothing more empowering than knowing that the sky is the limit when it comes to change within.

The world won’t move for you, nor will it acknowledge you, but you have all the power within to enact any change you want.

Want to get fit? Start exercising and trimming down your diet.

Want to get fight-ready? Start training with the money you earn, and sign yourself up for a fight in the ring.

Want to be more attractive? Look after your skin, build up confidence in the strengths you have and take nothing personally. Rejection is not a sign of unattractiveness, it’s a signal for you to search elsewhere.

Want to get better at something? Put in the hours. 24 hours in a day, in which you only lose 6-7 hours to sleep, and 8 hours to work still means you got 9 hours to put in the hard yards to learn, improve and inspire.

This is what individual responsibility is all about. It forces you to take a long hard look at yourself and find the strength within to do everything you ever wanted to do. It inspires you to reach higher heights because you alone know how much you are capable of.

Don’t blame the world, blame yourself first. Only you can change yourself, the world doesn’t give 2 shits about you.

Look after yourself, and stay hungry for more and suddenly it will seem like the sun is shining down especially bright for you, whereas for everyone else, the sky is cloudy.

In a world full of people willing to embrace themselves, improve themselves and better themselves, there is no real ceiling that can stop it. You will see unity amongst people, because they realise that they can’t change others, only themselves and that is OK. You learn to accept others, because they don’t really do you any harm.

The world is less offended, more introspective and accepting. You don’t feel the need to preach to others, to get angry at something beyond your control because you look inwards first and then realise it’s OK if something is beyond reproach.

I think in a lot of ways, the society that truly espouses what I am discussing right now, is early America in the wake of the American Revolution. There was an incredible ideology back then that really embraced what I am discussing, the freedoms in which the American people enjoyed were only made possible because people trusted one another to be responsible for themselves.

In particular if you observe the first 2 amendments of the American Constitution;

The 1st Amendment: Protects the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and the right to petition the government.

The 2nd Amendment: Protects the right to keep and bear arms.

Cast your mind back to that period of history, where governments and kingdoms ruled with an iron fist and enjoyed suppressing people as much as the next local dictator next door … the very first two amendments granted the people the extraordinary ability to police their own government and prevent any supreme leader from appearing.

The Constitution allows people to protest, bear arms against the government if suspected of tyranny and express themselves however damn well they wanted.

All the things modern governments still very much fear and do their best to control.

If the very first two Amendments are not a glowing recommendation for individual responsibility than observe the 9th and 10th Amendment which explicitly states

The 9th Amendment: states that rights not enumerated in the Constitution are retained by the people.

The 10th Amendment: states that the federal government possesses only those powers delegated or enumerated to it through the Constitution.

Both Amendments further restricts the power of the government and places a greater emphasis on people governing themselves.

Much like controlled anarchy.

However, such idealism would inevitably be lost to today’s world, especially with the prevalence of even more censorship, propaganda and downright lies spread by everyone.

The irony of too much freedom, is that people start to wish for more control.

With more control, only comes more laziness, more complacency and a desire to blame the other instead of yourself.

Reject the controlling nature of the world. Confuse the algorithms, or reject them entirely. Be informed, be smart, be in self-control of what you consume, read and think.

By embracing yourself, by taking on more responsibility for yourself, you create your own world, instead of falling into the prison that others have designed for you.

Dare to know, dare to challenge yourself and dare to win.

vivamus, moriendum est.

let us live, since we must die.

~ Damocles.

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