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Response – Ability

A confused word

The meaning of responsible is to have an ability to respond to whatever life presents us with, but in recent times its meaning has become confined to mean a person who has performed a particular action and is therefore responsible for it, or in other words the person responsible is the person to be blamed.

Dictionary's say:

Responsible is an adjective meaning 1590s, "answerable" (to another, for something), from obsolete French responsible (13c., Modern French responsable, as if from Latin *responsabilis), from Latin respons-, past participle stem of respondere "to respond".

Back then it mean that we had an ability to respond to life.

The meaning "accountable for one's actions" is attested from 1640s; and that of "reliable or trustworthy" is from the 1690s.

This confusion does people's heads in and creates divisions between people and society. My feeling is that we have come to a point where we either need to clarify and return to the original meaning or create a new word.

While we cannot be blamed for anything we did not do (although sometimes this happens as justice is so often skewed), we need to be responsible for everything in existence including in fact those things we did not do.

As a child I remember being blamed for things I did not do and I was being told that I was responsible for these acts, but because I was a child and I was being blamed by adults who should know better, these events were rather distressing.

As a child my ability to respond to the event and subsequent blame was somewhat limited and this is happening in the lives of many children today. They can see that their parents are not being responsible and sometimes attributing blame to others for actions that they have performed. This really confuses children and it is likely a factor in the high suicide rates of teenagers.

Our bodies

Every second of every day of our life, all the cells in our body are responding to each other, our body is responding to the air we breathe and the food we eat. But externally, what are we responsible for?

The way the word responsibility sits into our language has come to mean that I being responsible that somehow you are the cause of a particular event, that ready the meaning of the word is that we have a response-ability to that event.

This means that when we see a child cry we are responsible although we are not the cause of the child's tears. When lives are lost in natural disasters and even man-made disasters for that matter, we need to be responsible because when disaster comes to your neighbourhood, it is your ability to respond that will decide your course of action and whether or not you survive.

Body and Mind

Internally we are also responsible to what goes on inside our bodies and minds and note saying responsible to and not responsible for because to say responsible for is past tense and a form of blame.

As children, we respond to life with joy, abundant energy and enthusiasm. As we age would begin to shut ourselves away and become less responsible and by becoming less responsible so many people fail to take the correct action and their lives slowly fall apart.

It takes an effort to do so but our responsibility can be turned off and at the end of one's life, one becomes one of the walking dead.

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