MBA Mommy

Part MBA, Part MRS, Part MOM…..All ME

Responsibility

Posted by mbamommy on July 29, 2011

I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time.  Which should be obvious in that I haven’t posted in a long time.  But, that’s neither here nor there.  We all know that I’m terrible with this whole blog continuity thing.  I go through spurts where I want to write all the time.  Except I don’t have enough time to write a ton all at once to carry me through the dry periods.  You know, like budgeting so you can evenly spread things out.  I *know* that the most important thing in social media is consistency.  No one likes a start/stop relationship.  I *know* that those Mommy bloggers that are successful are writing all the time (or at least have a stock pile of posts saved up from their more verbose moments).

I don’t.  And…..if truth be told, it’s not even that I don’t have the time.  You always have the time if you make it a priority.  Dinner or blog?  Yoga or blog?  Sleep or blog?  Kiddos or blog?  Hubby or blog?  Dexter or blog?  You get my point, right?  As much as I love writing this blog and love even more getting feedback on it….having that conversation with you….it waxes and wanes on my list of priorities.  Ah well…..what can you do?

Which leads me back to my first sentence….I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time.  I heard somewhere that the origin of the word responsibility comes from the words Response and Ability.  Further, the origin of responsible comes from Response and Able.

Well, that blew my mind (I know, it doesn’t take much, right?).  It got me thinking of the implications of those two words and how we’ve distorted them in modern history to mean something else.  Or, rather, that there’s a disconnect between how we use the words responsibility and responsible and how they were originally meant.

Let’s take a look at these words (definitions borrowed from dictionary.com):

Responsibility

1. the state or fact of being responsible.

2. an instance of being responsible: The responsibility for this mess is yours!

3. a particular burden of obligation upon one who isresponsible: the responsibilities of authority.

(note: hasn’t dictionary.com ever heard you can’t define a word with that same word? Ugh.  So, let’s look at the synonyms: answerability, accountability.)

Response

1.an answer or reply, as in words or in some action.

Ability

1.power or capacity to do or act physically, mentally, legally,morally, financially, etc.

2.competence in an activity or occupation because of one’sskill, training, or other qualification: the ability to sing well.

3.abilities, talents; special skills or aptitudes: Composing music is beyond his abilities

Ok.  So according to the origin, responsibility is having the power or capacity to answer, either in words or actions.  The ability to respond.  I can buy that.  That makes a lot of sense.

But, I think that in modern day conversation we use the word much to casually.  I tell my kids all the time it is their responsibility to clean up their toys.  But, what I mean is that with 2 arms, 2 legs, and a constantly moving torso, they have the power for action, the ability to respond physically.  But, what if they don’t have the mental capacity?  What if what I’m asking them is above and beyond their 3 yr old brain?  What if they don’t understand the words I’m saying?

As parents, we are told we have the responsibility of doing our best when raising our kids.  Which assumes we have the ability to respond appropriately.  But what if we lost our job and don’t have the financial ability?  What if we are handicapped and don’t have the physical ability to run after our spirited child?  What if we’re suffering post-partum depression and don’t have the mental ability to respond to their colicky cries?  What if we were raped and got pregnant?  Do we still have the moral ability to raise the child?

I think maybe a better word is obligation.  If we’re unable to take response-ability for something we should be obligated to do something about it.  To look for a new job or ask for help when out and about with our kids.  To take proactive steps to dig out of depression or put the child up for adoption or have an abortion if we can’t raise them.

Weighty stuff, I know.  And I totally didn’t mean for this post to be so heavy.   I’m just fascinated by the idea that responsibility…in modern language…is used as a synonym for obligation.  People use the word as a way to criticize another individual.

But, we don’t know the whole story.  We need to take a moment.  Take a breath.  And then open our ears to listen to others instead of quickly passing judgment on them.  Maybe they aren’t able to respond in the ways we think are appropriately responsible.

Words are important.  Perhaps the strongest weapon we have in our arsenal.  Let’s take responsibility for them at least.

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One Response to “Responsibility”

  1. […] —>this<— post?  I just wrote about the power of words and the need for more […]

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