Monday, July 28, 2008
The circles of responsibility
Responsibility is defined as "the trait of being answerable for someone or for something".
What exactly are we responsible for in life? We ofcourse dont have just one responsibility in life. There are many. Which responsibility is more important accordingly decides our priorities in life. I believe my responsibilities are like concentric circles, and I am situated at the centre. So, the farther away the circle, the lesser my responsibility towards it.
Responsibility comes from the degree of influence on an object. As some people say, "Power is responsibility". The more the control you have over something, the more responsible you are for it and hence it falls into your closer circle. For example, whe you borrow a book from someone, you get control over that book for some time and hence it comes into your closer circle. When you do not have the book, it does not come into your circles of responsibility.
I define the circles for myself as follows. The innermost circle is that which you have been given maximum control over - yourself! So, your beliefs, thoughts, actions, paradigms, ethics, health come into the innermost circle which constitute an extremely central constituent of your existence.
What is that you have most control over other than your ownself? For me, it is my family. So, that is the next concentric circle. When you have a high control over someone/something, the most amazing thing is that that someone/something has also given you a lot in life. So, the next responsibility is the family.
Then come my friends and close relatives. Then nature, society, India (my country) and then all the living beings in this world in that order.
With the definition of who is more important comes the concept of what is more important for each of these circles. For example, someone might look at this theory and say that if you kill someone for your own greed, you are satisfying your topmost priority. But, that is not true. Hence, it becomes more important to define responsibility for each level.
My responsibility towards my own self is not to give myself all luxury of the world. Instead, it is to strive for higher growth - better health, more spiritual growth and a use of my capabilities to fulfil the other responsibilities lying in other circles. Doing this satisfies my responsibility towards myself rather than just enjoying all comforts of the world and making my body and mind unhealthy and lazy. Your sense of ethic also comes into this layer. (This layer deserves a post of its own :))
Responsibility is giving these layers what they dont have. For example, if my parents are very wealthy, what is the point of giving them more money? It is not even standing upto the terms and conditions these layers define for you. For example, the society respects you if you take up science or commerce as an education stream but disrespects arts graduates. That does not mean taking up science or commerce is your responsibility. Take up the field of your choice and contribute and give the society the direction it lacks.
Responsibility is not just satisfying the desires of the various circles around you. It is about giving them that which they need in life, not that which they want in life.
But in all of this, never ever forget that the most important thing is your own growth. Only then will you be able to contribute to someone else's growth. Move inner towards the centre of the concentric circles. And when you reach there, bang in the centre, consider it done!