A word on "personal responsibility"

personal responsibility

I want to take a step back and really really look at what someone means when they say personal responsibility.

Here is the definition I believe people are getting at: Human beings are different from other animals as we are able to make choices. The ability to change our behavior based on information then means that we have a certain obligation to make correct choices. At times the best choices cannot always be made and if they can't one should seek to use their choices to make up for those past transgressions.

Personal responsibility is then the idea that people can and should be accountable for what they do.

Bullshit! Absolute bullshit.

The greatest obstacle to a discussion on personal responsibility is believing that without it we lose freedom of choice.

The reason it's bullshit is because it's an impossible concept. I said above that in order to take responsibility for an action there has to be a way to change that action. So if you make a mistake the only way to be responsible for it is to choose to be responsible for it.

Humans are not magical creatures with sense built in. We are pattern apes that are prone to outrageous assumptions and logical inconsistencies. We learn completely based on environment like anything else. We are just way better at it. From the moment we are born we are doing nothing but responding to stimulus. Every passing second to the next, just responding to stimulus.

Lets look at this as an abstract concept. You are told to choose the most delicious food in the world. You have only ever seen or eaten mud. Is that person stupid for saying mud is the most delicious? Are they even wrong in their own world? They can't possibly choose another food, they have never experienced it. All they know is mud so of course they say mud.

How is any behavior different? We HAVE to be exposed to an environment that gives us an ability before we can use it. If you never learn to make certain choices how in the living fuck are you supposed to choose them? It's great that we think people should somehow just learn to correct their behavior. But what the hell does that even mean? It's not an actual thing you can do because it's based on moral relativism. What is moral is relative to your culture what you are is relative to what environment you were born into.

The only thing that makes change possible is mindfulness. If you never sit down and think about what you do then you are not actually making choices, you are just responding to your internal biases. It is only through mindful meditation that you can change those biases.

That's what really separates us from animals. Not that we can think... but we have the ability to remember, and contrast. To compare two ideas. That with time and energy we can sort out our emotions and actually use our own internal environment to change how we express ourselves externally. This is not inherent, feral children deprived of social contact do not gain this spark. We imbue the concept by creating an environment for consciousness to come to be.

Choice is an illusion. When we are picking something our consciousness is actually almost last in line. We make our choice before we ever think we do. Because we are a pattern machine programmed by experience.

You cannot then choose how you respond in a situation. You can only vaguely hope to use your already prepared knowledge to guide you through. Using a concept known as mindfulness you can adjust your behavior. It's not magical, you just reflect on what you've done and try and compare. You cannot expect other people to be magically mindful. If they don't know how or can't calm down long enough to do it then they never change their behavior. They wind up stuck in behavior patterns that they absolutely cannot control.

What it comes down to is an uncomfortable truth. Personal responsibility is a perssonal lie made up to explain why some people have a lot and others have little. By saying that on some level it's your responsibility what environment you were born into it allows those who have to be ok with their actions. After all they MUST be personally responsible for it.

If however we are just products of our environment. Then you cannot expect someone to act in a way they have not experienced. This means that if you can help others... you MUST. You can never be sure if someone else isn't caught in a thought pattern they can't escape. All you know is that you can change your behavior. That's it, no one else on this planet can be expected to change their course unless you act. Only you can practice your own mindfulness. Other people can only learn and practice these concepts if you teach them as well. There is no reason to expect change to happen unless those that have are willing to share with those who have not. Not because the have nots "deserve" it. But because we can recognize the chaos of it all. "Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody's gonna die".

Reality is chaos. Personal responsibility is impossible. Change has to come as an organic group concept. We are not different from one another, the chemicals that govern the rules of your synapses also govern your flesh and mine and the air we breathe. Boundaries and concepts melt away when you look closer. We aren't all powerful god children, we are still just apes wanting to get through an ever increasingly complex world. Just like people 1000 years ago could not make choices we make today because they could not conceptualize them. We can't expect one person to the next to be able to come to conclusions they have not experienced gaining the knowledge to come to.

/r/studentloandefaulters Thread