Have you ever met anybody from your country complaining of why the nation is not working? Hey, could that person be you?
I personally had fallen victim to this line of reasoning for a considerable amount of time in my life. As years went by, though, I discovered that as in many other things, I had simply fallen victim of my environment. I saw people around me blame the nation and everything else that is wrong in the country, on one person or the other and I simply joined them. I heard them talk about it, I witnessed them playing the blame game, and I joined them, on and on it went.
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” —1cor 13:11
However, thank God for understanding, thank God for insight, thank God for education. After getting myself relatively educated in the area of National Transformation, I have come to discover that it makes better sense to look at what I could do to fix the problem of the society, rather than blaming others for what is wrong in the country.
As a matter of fact, I never seriously thought about the word responsibility until I was doing my masters in the university. I was fortunate to listen to a man address the issue of men’s responsibility. The word seems so common and popular that I never thought it needed much attention, but the more I studied it the more I discovered, hey! Wait a minute, I never really knew anything about the true meaning of the word. At least my life style did not show any form of responsibility for the nation where I was born or the nation where I lived.
Today, I can joyfully say that one of the best undertakings I have ever made was to study the subject of responsibility. As obvious as my assertion in this article is, so many people still don’t think very seriously about the fact that Personal Responsibility is one of the most essential credentials in National Transformation.
The now famous and widely used quotation of John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” is probably the most circulated quotation on the subject of Personal Responsibility of a citizen towards his nation. If a nation, and any nation for that matter, could raise up the standard of Personal Responsibility in their society, you will in no time see a country of virtuous people, developed and civilised.
“The price of greatness is responsibility.” ―Winston S. Churchill
As an African, that is probably one quality that sends the first shock-waves through the spine of an immigrant from a developing country coming to Europe. The level of Personal Responsibility in developed countries is averagely much higher than is seen in developing nations.
“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.” —Bob Dylan
Personal Responsibility of each citizen before the nation, is usually well defined in all developed nations. In many other countries, such a statement like was made by John F. Kennedy would have gone by unnoticed, because to most people Personal Responsibility of a citizen towards the nation, does not really mean anything. Which explains why most citizens of such nations play the blame game.
If you are reading this article, it is my belief that you must be interested in the transformation of your nation. If that is the case then you must start with yourself. The most obvious question of a responsible person is what can I do in this situation? The more we can ask such questions, the more we bring about change where we are. Instead of expecting someone from somewhere to spearhead or bring about a change that we desire, it is much more practical to begin to do something personally.
“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” ―Sigmund Freud
At this junction, I would like us to look into the definition of the phrase Personal Responsibility:
Personal Responsibility is the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone.
Personal Responsibility is the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something.
Personal Responsibility is the state of being the person who caused something to happen.
Personal Responsibility is a duty or task that you are required or expected to do.
Personal Responsibility is something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.
Personal Responsibility is the individual desire to be in charge or in control of an action or situation.
Personal Responsibility is the acknowledgement of the fact that I am personally responsible for what is happening in my life, in my surrounding and in my nation.
Personal Responsibility is an act of being responsible for results and consequences of your decisions, actions and in-actions in a given situation or circumstance.
Personal Responsibility is when an individual volunteers to be in charge of duties, tasks and is ready to see to its fulfillment.
Personal Responsibility is when a person refuses to submit his life into the hands of others, but would prefer to rather be a man and provide for his own needs.
Personal Responsibility is when a person refuses to run away from challenges and difficulties, when he refuses to blame others, when he decides to rise to the occasion.
Personal Responsibility is when a person sees a problem and refuses to be indifferent, but decides to rather look for ways and means of resolving the problem.
A responsible citizen is the one that sees something wrong in the society, something he is not satisfied with or that he cannot agree with and responds not by blaming the government or leaders. But by designing ways and means of bringing a lasting solution to the issues at hand.
For a nation to be truly transformed, there must be movements, civil societies, NGOs etc that are spread all across the land to educate people on the issues of Personal Responsibility. If a nation or rather active citizens of a nation could successfully launch such campaigns and a good percentage of the populace begin to live by the principles of Personal Responsibility, which is “don’t blame others”, think of what you can do to fix it. Such a nation would cross the huddle of civilisation in a record time.
Dear reader, if you are reading this article, are you going to begin with yourself by responding rather creatively to the issues you see around your nation? It is easy to say, but there is no way I could personally address every single problem in my nation, they are too many. Oh yea, you cannot fix all problems, but you can fix some problems, more importantly you could bring enlightenment to all others around you.
“Choices may be unbelievably hard, but they’re never impossible. To say you have no choice is to release yourself from responsibility and that’s not how a person with integrity acts.”―Patrick Ness
If each one, in your area of influence, would offer to do at least something about what they have a burden for, soon everybody in the nation would be doing something leading to a massive movement of enterprises, entrepreneurship, services, charities, etc.
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” —Abraham Lincoln
The truth is that everyone, if he is human, must be aware of his own responsibility for himself, for others, for all and for something. That is a part of what makes us human. This is because we are created to become an answer and a solution to some needs or the other in the world. We are all here to make our world a better place. If you would not take action and responsibility for those things you were created for, that does not mean you escape the responsibility, you still face that responsibility one way or the other. Unfortunately this realisation often comes in form of regret, pain and sorrow.
“Eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done, and have not done.” ―Hubert Selby Jr.
An example that comes to mind is a situation where we refuse to pay attention to the less fortunate people in our neighbourhoods. If every single person in the elite of our society will take care of at least one child, most of the street kids would be taken care of. Yet, we act as if it is none of our business.
Truly in the short term, there tends to be no consequences to our act of irresponsibility. However in the long run most of those kids are now grownups and are the fearful nocturnal visitors with weapons attacking the same neighbourhood, raping our daughters and wives, maiming our sons and husbands, turning our lives into a nightmare. Our response? Another blame game. We turn our attention to the government and we whine about the incompetence of the police, we also complain about the breakdown in law and order. Yet, we forget that we actually had a role to play in the consequences we are reaping.
“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” ―Dietrich Bonhoeffer
When we refuse to do what we are supposed to do at the right time, the consequence is that of pain and tragedy. When a people refuse to pay the price of Personal Responsibility for the problems of the nation, that same people end up paying the high price of irresponsibility, which is often in tragedy and sorrow.
We laugh and jest at what we call “street boys or area boys” instead of thinking of what we could do, to get them occupied or send them to school and create work opportunities for them. We rather choose to build walls around our compounds, electrocuted fences to protect out interest and personal comfort. That only shows lack of Personal Responsibility. It doesn’t matter who the government is, what they do or what they don’t do.
The action or inaction of any government does not negate the Personal Responsibility of the citizens. “Such street boys and area boys” would sooner or later come back to us in another ampleur. Only this time as thieves, armed robbers, cultists and gang members that we fear and dread.
Yet, instead of us to have a rethink and begin to use the money we use in building fences, to build bridges of social organisations, NGOs, employment platforms, we again turn around and try to bad mouth our system, forgetting that we are the system. We are the nation. We are the government. We are the people!
As I write this article, I have one of my assistants here that told me a very compelling story that highlights the high level of irresponsibility in our country.
He grew up in a Nigerian city where there were some neighbours, who were involved in the illegal transaction of petroleum commodities. There was always chaos in the neighbourhood whenever the law enforcement agents came calling. These boys created pandemonium in their search for an escape route. What never occurred to my friend and his fellow “high fenced secured neighbors” was that they shared the blame in the consequences of the ensued chaos. They could actually have helped these boys when they were a lot younger. Even presently, they could still offer them some help in getting them off the streets. Rather, they chose instead to complain about those boys presence in their neighbourhood and blame their parents for not doing enough in bringing them up. They also blamed the government for not helping these boys with some form of aid, scholarship and employment.
“And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” —Luke 6:31
If these boys were well taken care of by the people who live within these high fences, these boys could have grown up to become responsible and self-reliant individuals who would have in turn looked out for the security of the neighbourhood. They, in fact, subconsciously contributed to whom these boys became – a threat and dread to the whole neighbourhood.
The neglet of these boys, the lack of care and the failure to provide welfare for them, led to whom they became. The arrogance at which the well-to-do neighbours looked down at these boys was a sign of irresponsibility. Helping these boys become productive could have done a lot of good to the neighbourhood. It would have had a positive impact on the economy not just of the community, but on the nation at large. These boys would have become tax-paying entrepreneurs, who are respected and would never have any cause to go into crime or violate the rule of law.
“Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour.” —1 Corinthians 3:8
Moreover, the economy would have further benefited in the sense that there would not have been a reason for the speculation in oil commodities from which the whole country eventually suffers. The Nigerian economy loses a quarter of her GDP to all sorts of economic crimes, fraud and speculations annually.
Such illegal economic activities the men were engaged in does a lot of harm to the economy, because the stolen fuel deprives the government of funds which can be used judiciously in building roads, hospitals, and other basic social amenities. These boys who are the creation of our collective societal irresponsibility, end up depriving us of the very comfort we so much yearned for. We are all deprived of development and civilisation due to the stolen resources which reflects hugely on our national revenue.
Due to this act of Personal Irresponsibility, illegal businesses are setup, our neighborhoods are not secured and the economy directly and indirectly takes a big hit. The government alone cannot be blamed for this, because this is our neighbourhood and if we cannot take care of our immediate surroundings, then we are clearly not carrying out our responsibilities and we don’t have any business blaming someone else. These street boys also serve as negative influences to our children and the younger generation through their get rich quick schemes.
“But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.” —Galatians 6:4-5
Personal Responsibility leads to collective responsibility. When there is Personal and Collective Responsibility in a society, the government cannot but be responsible. That is why it is obvious that a nation deserves the leaders they get, because the nation produces the leader. The leaders are simply a reflection of the values of the society or lack of them.
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” —James 4:17
We often blame our government for their lack of responsibility, socially and politically. We forget that that is only a result of the societal irresponsibility in general. When there is no Personal Responsibility in any society, there cannot be a responsible government. Responsible government is an off shoot of a culture of Personal Responsibility.
Dear friends, I presume the point is been passed across to you that a National Transformation must begin with every citizen of the land. As you and I take Personal Responsibility for mending the things that are out of order in our community and nation in general, we would surely witness a transformed, developed and civilised society.
Sunday Adelaja is a Nigerian born leader, Transformation Strategist, Pastor and innovator who lives in Kieve Ukraine. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org