What is Responsibility?

Responsibility is a word which means different things to different people in different contexts. There are responsibilities which are defined for us, and in some cases, which we are compelled to fulfil, in others cases we should or might fulfil them, and responsibilities which we identify for ourselves. They can fit within 3 general categories: responsibility consists of things we do if we are told-duties; things we do because of requirement-obligations; things that we do without being asked-deeds.

Responsibilities are often multi-dimensional, seemingly ubiquitous and often dynamic. Responsibility can affect us without any thought being given to its existence, and sometimes, responsibility affects us with considerable thought being evoked. Responsibility can also compel us to take action. Where, when, why and how? that depends upon many factors.

Exploring responsibility means embarking on a special voyage of discovery- a voyage outward and a voyage inward, often at the same time.

Thoughts on Responsibility

Never before have so many people been so rich to so little purpose.

Mark Kingwell

Society's greatest need is not for agreement but for responsibility. And in a democracy, responsibility is based on the inevitability of disagreement. Responsibility-disagreement has to do with an understanding of our obligation to society.

John Ralston Saul

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

Anne Frank

The only danger to our democracy is that people will not carry their share of responsibility.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Martin Luther King

It's only a drop in the ocean-but the ocean wouldn't be the same without that drop.

Mother Teresa

The price of greatness is responsibility.

Winston Churchill

This is the mighty joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little cloud of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I can live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" to me. It is a splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

George Bernard Shaw from "Man and Superman"


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Last Updated: 29-Mar-2004