My father was a man of great integrity. Whenever anything went wrong he would immediately say that he took full responsibility. When things didn’t go according to plan, as was often the case, and he was called to account, he was completely incredulous that there should be any sort of compensation required on his part. In today’s ‘talk culture’ in which life moves fast, ambiguity reigns supreme, and we find ourselves surrounded by fog. Saying you take responsibility can be a winning strategy.
The next issue is that the concept of being responsible presupposes awareness of the action, as well as specific intent on our part. These two criteria are in fact the test that the law uses to hold each of us accountable in court.
On the first count, awareness- to the extent that we are trapped in our own subjective perspective, we cannot see past our own noses. Instead of seeing the world as an interconnected whole where all play a part, all but a very few experience themselves as the center of their universe. They see events as being done to them when they fail, and created by them when they succeed.
Regarding intent, most of our actions are directed away from something, rather than towards it – the drive to avoid pain is far stronger than the desire for pleasure. Just as in the case of addiction, what starts out as pleasure seeking, quickly turns into pain avoidance. Instead of running towards the high, we are running away from the withdrawal. So what we have is a bunch of people who are neither contextually, nor psychologically, in a position to take responsibility for anything, smugly proclaiming “I take responsibility!”
“Csak azökörkövetkezetes” was the old Hungarian adage written on a huge beam spanning the ceiling of a Hungarian restaurant we used to go to as a family when I was a kid. Translated into English it means: “Only the ox is consequent”. I recall that even when translated it made no sense to me at the time – now it does!