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Responsibility November 27, 2010

Posted by ekarlpierson in 29) Responsibility.
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PARTICIPANT: But don’t you believe that we have a responsibility to our fellow man and our community, a responsibility to society in general? If everyone said, “Let someone else do it,” where would we be as a society?

WW: First, I don’t think I would have used the word “responsibility” in that context. I would have said “duty.” I see it as my duty, of sorts, to get an occasional person to see differently in some small way. I think it has more value than the problem-solving approach, and there aren’t many people out there who are trying to redirect anyone to see differently. Second, your question is flawed. Everyone is not going to “let someone else do it.” The universities are cranking out graduates by the thousands with some type of counseling degree or sociology degree. They can’t wait to get out there and straighten out the rest of the world. People are standing in line to use the problem solving-approach on the ills of society, so I don’t think we’re going to run short of people who work in that arena.

Although the orthodox, problem-solving approach may have some merit, it has some serious faults and fissures. Let’s take a few minutes to check out the words, “problem solving.” We use words to describe events, but then jump to the next word or idea without really picking apart the words we use—without serious examination of what those words mean. Problem solving. I’ll refer to the picture of man. The lower section of the awareness function is where the so-called problem comes in. I’ve described it many ways—the wish to gain pleasure and escape pain, serving the ideal, the desire to re-direct disturbance, hatred of resistance. These are really all the same thing in different wording. When we use the word “problem,” isn’t that really what we’re talking about? Someone has disturbed our little world or given us some resistance.

Problem solving: the word “solving.” Let’s look again at out picture of man. When we’re solving the problem, where does the solution come from?

PARTICIPANT: Methodology. The methods used by the trolls. The trolls use methods to solve the so-called problems. That means that when we’re trying to solve a problem, we’re following another troll in pursuit of an ideal.

WW: Correct, correct. We’ve identified one term that we use often: “solving a problem.” As I have redundantly expressed, so much of what we say and do can be found in that very simple, abstract picture that we drew. We’ve gone over simple ideas such as meditation and more complex ideas such as existentialism, but when we give these ideas the shakedown, they all turn out to be mostly twenty-dollar words for the same old grind.

Back to responsibility. Much of what people refer to as responsibility is really nothing more than blame. It’s easy to place blame on ourselves or someone else, then refer to it as responsibility. You can see this all over the newspapers and television. Everyone can tell us who is to blame for everything.

There are several definitions of responsibility: duty, blame, authority, control, trust. I’d like to offer up another definition of responsibility that may not be in your dictionary: “The ability to respond.” That may sound like a simple and easy thing to do, but we react, rather than respond. Virtually everyone I meet believes that they think things through and therefore are not reacting, but we think things through according to a basic set of reactionary ideologies and a fragmented view. We have a reactionary picture of good and bad. Before we think things through, we have a reaction that an event is happening to us, the center. This takes place without words. It takes place immediately. When an event comes to us, we have reactionary feelings. It’s as if we pull the trigger and then think things through. It’s too damn late to think things through! The reaction has already happened!

This brings us to the next question. Where do I start with regards to responsibility? I see my primary responsibility as the self. Not my wife’s self, or my coworker’s self, but my own self. Me first. If I can get the logs out of my own eyes, then maybe I’ll see clearly enough to see the specs in other’s eyes. You can’t get a certification in this from a college, you can’t memorize it from a book, and for that matter you can’t get it from me in the real, usable sense. You have to be willing to work hard and dig through your own trash. If you can do that, then you may experience real responsibility—the responsibility of self-awareness, objective awareness. You may be able to see through the disguises of self in others and treat them accordingly. Questions?

PARTICIPANT: I’m not following you when you said, “treat them accordingly.” Could you go further into that?

WW: No. If you do the hard work of self-awareness, you’ll see the way to treat others that are in the predicament in which you have so often been. If I tell you how to treat others with any degree of specificity, it will just be me telling you how to behave. It will be one more brick on your load. There isn’t much value in that. The fact is, I don’t know how you should behave; it’s way beyond my skill level.

PARTICIPANT: You said that we may be able to see the specks in other peoples eyes. Don’t we have a responsibility help other people to remove their specs?

WW: Go ahead! Start pointing out the flaws that you see in others when they aren’t asking you to do so, and see how far it gets you. They won’t thank you, they’ll resent you. I get in trouble with people even when they ask for my view!