We like to have our freedom. It is great and fun to explore and extend our boundaries. We love to take the credit for our actions, but only selectively. Positive consequences are naturally ours to claim but what about the not so desired effects?
Freedom and responsibility go hand-in-hand—the greater the freedom the greater the responsibility as well. Our current society does not encourage personal freedom. In practice we are sanctioned, monitored, and restrained in almost all aspects of life. We have learned to behave obediently and not to question the behaviour patterns or norms of the society. Like Goethe once said: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
We have created an artificial layer that is expected to protect individuals from harms and consequences of their personal actions. This has created a culture where people have become accustomed (or learned) to be passive and not to take action themselves. We expect someone else to tell us what to do or help us out of our own problems. This has come so far that we even regard we have the right and the others’ the moral obligation to unilaterally support us. We have isolated ourselves from the effects of our actions.
Our personal initiatives and responsibility are very limited, but so is our freedom as well. We have given up our rights in order to gain something for nothing. We prefer to have it easy and let others to bear the consequences for us. Unfortunately this is a zero-sum game in an aggregate level and as a result everybody is worse off. There are no free lunches—there is always someone paying the bill.
Isolating individuals from their actions’ consequences is a double-edged sword. It creates an illusion of safety and protection but at the same time it removes the control from the very person. And this creates uncertainty, fear, and self-esteem issues among others. Simply we do not feel anymore that the life is in our own hands: we are on top of the issues and have the solutions available for us. Confidence and security build from experience and the knowledge that we have the tools and the means to cope with our circumstances.
It requires practice and experience to become good at something. This means that we have learned something by experimenting and sometimes even making wrong choices that have guided us to do something differently in the future. In other words we have the motivation to keep going and get better. All this requires responsibility. Responsibility is the feedback mechanism that shows us how we are performing and the results of our pursuits. Mastery is only possible for those who are aware of their actions and their consequences.
Look around you—how much responsibility are we taking for our actions?