I think life can be metaphorically compared to economics: everything has its price.

The price for freedom is personal risk. The price for safety is freedom.

 Understand that the price you pay for your reality is a choice, a way in which you create your reality yourself. Psychosocial reality comes with a price. An endeavor costs time, energy, and probably even real money. Communicating an idea costs the risk that it will be negated, disputed, shot down, and maybe you will be a social cast-aside because of your ideas.

I was, for some time, involved with a grassroots activist group. We had a lawyer on our side and one of his favorite phrases was: “Civil disobedience means nothing if you are not aware of how you are being disobedient, why you are being disobedient, and the risks of your disobedience.“

The moral of this one powerful sentence is an important feature of the 21st Century Enlightenment: personal responsibility.

 For us to be effective, to change our psychosocial reality, to change our world, to benefit individually and as societies, and to make good choices, it is imperative that we are aware of what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and have some sense of the risks and costs involved in what we do.

After awareness, we must realize that, if we move forward, we do so at our own risk. If we don’t tackle the challenges that are our own making, if we don’t gather enough information, if we don’t consider the context of what we do and we fail, there is no one to blame but ourselves. One of my first blogs for this project, What do People Want?, touched on this concept in political terms:

A political shift (and one is sorely needed) can only come when the citizens of a democracy realize that they voted for their politicians, that they knew their representatives were corrupt, lying, self-serving, power-hungry people and yet, when election time rolled around again, they vote for them again!

 In individual terms—having to do with you and your decisions and interactions—there is no difference.

You, and only you, control your determination and your choices. Even though other people, social conditions, and various other outside influences can and will probably affect your outcomes, to assume responsibility is much more productive and conducive to growth and development that being irresponsible—which will get you nowhere.

Easy ways to express personal responsibility include, for example: If you make a mistake at work—admit it, own it, and fix it yourself. Or, if you know how to do something properly yet you take the easy route (or cheap route or short route or whatever) and your endeavor doesn’t go well, then there’s no one to blame but yourself!

This is a difficult way to live your life. It takes suspending your ego and taking heat from others—your boss, your spouse, police, etc. But be careful, if word gets around that you’ll assume responsibility for anything, you’ll quickly become a scapegoat.

If living this way is difficult and I am advocating it, then I must think there’s some benefit, right? A combination between awareness and personal responsibility in politics would prevent history from repeating itself. The idea that this silver-tongued politician is better than the last silver-tongued politician is a result of placing blame for problems on the first politician—not ourselves.

If you took responsibility for your mistakes at work, you could learn from them, not make them again, instill a sense of trust in your superiors and the organization as a whole, which might lead to more responsibility, more money, and more fulfillment in your job.

Taking the easy route is always tempting. Why? It’s easy. But if something needs to get done and you know how to do it right, just do it right. The outcome will be closer to what you actually wanted in the first place. This is precisely why knowledge is power, why it’s better to know things even if you think ignorance might really be bliss.

Remember why you get up in the morning—to do stuff. And the only reason you can get away with doing stuff is because you’re a free-acting, autonomous individual. Make good choices, you probably already know how.

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