Tag Archives: Down syndrome

Theory of Personal Responsibility

8-year-old boy with Down Syndrome
8-year-old boy with Down Syndrome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am responsible for me.

This means first that I must act in a way that is responsible for myself. Live out the consequences of my choices without needlessly burdening others.  Other have their own troubles and their own responsibilities. When we each who are capable live in this way we both free others to do the same and free ourselves to be more able to help those who truly are needy.

It is a paradox that those who are most self-sufficient are those most capable of helping those who are not.

Existing social structures are each responsible in turn: Family follows the self, then friends, then community and civic/social groups, then local government, then state government, then federal government. This does not mean the federal government is the ultimate authority. It means that the federal government is only authority when and in circumstances where all other levels have either failed, abdicated, or are incapable on sufficient scale to bear any given responsibility. This is the same for each succeeding layer of responsibility: Family is only responsible for that which the individual is not capable of being responsible for. An infant is capable of very little in themselves, so the family is responsible for them, but the family is also responsible for raising that infant to take responsibility to the utmost of it’s capability. When the family fails, or a situation gets beyond, or is beyond, the family’s capability, greater numbers of involved and invested and capable people, friends that is, then share in the responsibility. This does not have to be only in serious situations, it could be when children go off to play together at each others houses, friends share in responsibilities to the benefit of all. Then communities such as churches, clubs, social circles and the like, to which we have voluntarily joined ourselves, bear a certain level of responsibility.

You can see the graduating layers as each successive level bears some responsibility innately and then gains certain responsibility based on specific situations and circumstances. The way to visualize this is as a pyramid: The individual has ultimate responsibility, that is, first and last. While others may become responsible at different times and in different situations, the individual has first responsibility and will answer at the end for all that pertains to them whether others were involved or not. Each successive and broadening layer then goes down, not up, in authority over the individual and over each successive layer. This leaves federal government not as the ultimate responsible party but as the last responsible party. In some ways this last position equates with “least”. It is last in priority, and therefore has least priority in the layers that stand above it. It is not a foundational position either. The foundational responsibility can only belong to something outside, something not us. God does not form a layer below the federal government, God forms the all-encompassing framework inside which the entire pyramid exists.

The second outcome of self-responsibility is that each successive layer of responsibility ought to generally, as a matter of course, act in a way that is not-responsible towards those layers that are above it in priority. Family only takes responsibility for the individual when and where that individual is incapable of being self-responsible. Friends, only when and where the family is beyond it’s capability. And so on. The various layers of government ought only bear that responsibility for which all other layers are incapable or not suited. This does not mean that each successive layer out to act antagonistically to those layers above it in responsibility, but ought instead to build up each layer in order that those other layers are MORE capable, and so that responsibility only falls upon the lower layers when all else has failed. In other words, the family ought to build up the individual so that the family is less necessary, and less likely to be called upon to support that individual as it matures and takes on more responsibility for itself. The friends ought to build up the family and the individual in the same way, and the community ought to do the same for the friends and the family and the individual, and so on. This structure of reinforced and supported and encouraged responsibility results in the strongest communities, the strongest families, the strongest nations, because each individual and each successive layer of responsibility is invest in those that take priority above it, and as each successive layer is made as strong as it can, the entire structure can bear much weight and stress in times where responsibility increases or situations change for any given layer.

The federal government, then, ought to be primarily invested not in centralizing responsibility, authority, and power to itself, but instead in divesting authority. Not delegating, for that implies that it retains ultimate responsibility and is superior to those layers which are in fact superior to it. But divesting authority, actually giving it away (or, more realistically, having it taken away) to those layers which it ought to instead be supporting and reinforcing so that they are able and capable of bearing more and more responsibility and authority.

Enhanced by Zemanta