Responsibility and its Civic Importnace in America
To most people today, responsibility is something we experience almost every day; from the mundane of picking up trash to the extraordinary of stitching communities back together. I’m not saying that we take responsibility for granted. Instead, I am saying that to most Americans, responsibility is a concept that is as strange as it is fascinating. But it’s in fact a trait that has followed us throughout our remarkable history.
To Americans, Washington is known as the Father of America. This title derives its roots from the amazing courage and inextinguishable flame of liberty that seemed incarnate within him. Washington first led a battle in 1754 during the French-Indian War as an LtCol. 21 years later, when fighting broke out during the American Revolution, Congress created the Continental Army. The very next day they appointed Washington as Commander-in-Chief. The reason: there was no competition to rival his experience and courage in battle. However, Washington accepted the offer reluctantly. The position he was offered was incredible in that it gave him immense power. But it was coupled with tremendous responsibility because not only was he accountable for the lives of his men, but also for the safety of his country. Washington knew this, but he still took the position because his love for liberty and freedom was greater than the snags the position would throw at him. I believe that another reason he took the job was because he believed the thirteen colonies had to take responsibility for their shortcomings and repel the British rule that seemed to loom over them like a ravenous vulture. In the end, Washington’s leadership prevailed and the British were defeated.
Washington’s responsibility was tremendous in the sense that he orchestrated the removal of British rule from America and did it not for monetary gains or personal fame, but instead for his love and devotion too liberty, freedom, his country, and on top, for the plain truth that we all seem to recognize; you need to take responsibility for your actions and conditions. A not so recognized truth is if you are oppressed, the oppressor is not responsible, therefore you need to take that responsibility out of their hands and shoulder it for the common good.
Coupling his military story, Washington also presided over the Constitutional Convention which forged the Constitution of the United States. The purpose of the Constitution was to create a federal government that could run a nation properly. It lists step-by-step the way this government was to be formed and operated. But within these instructions is a system called checks-and-balances. It’s a system that gives each branch of government the power to check the other branches if they misuse their power. It is this system that embodies responsibility. Each branch is given the responsibility coupled with the power to deter abuse of power. They should not stand idly by as another branch manipulates the constitution for their own whimsical wishes at the expense of the common citizen.
In today’s world, there are an infinite number of chances to exercise ones responsibility. It ranges from the effortless of walking instead of driving to the transcendent of orchestrating a global effort to scale back the melting of glaciers. Concerning me, I can execute my responsibility in many ways like planting trees to compensate for the ravaging of rain forests. We cannot always aspire to be world wide reformers; we have to add the concept of reality. But we can nurture ideas that mature into physical actions which benefit the whole of society. I can’t hope to get healthcare to children in Somalia when Americans in my neighborhood are suffering. I’m not trying to discourage big ideas; I’m only saying that you have to be realistic. The higher your aspirations are, the harder your fall will be.
In closing, I would like to add that civic values, like responsibility, are the actions that keep the world moving in a positive direction. If these values were to be absent from the human nature, you would have a malicious, self-seeking, uncaring person who looks out for number one and number one only. So the next time you see a homeless person on the street, don’t ponder on how they got there as you walk away. Instead, contemplate on how you would feel if you were that person and people just waked by as you hand the destitute a twenty.