What are our responsibilities to ourselves and to our society?
In the shortest possible terms, responsibility is nothing else but accountability. Responsibility towards a society, therefore, is accountability towards everything that happens in the given society. As citizens of this world all of us have a moral duty towards this place, and we are answerable to everything that happens in this society, directly and indirectly. Moreover, we are also responsible to ourselves because charity does begin at home.
Since we live in a highly subjective world, we see in the pages of history that people have taken up (or shattered) their responsibilities in countless ways. Some felt they were born to change the world, others thought they were here to help the under-privileged, and the rest didn’t mind turning a blind eye towards the society and took up the ‘responsibility’ of feeding only themselves. Responsibility is how you see it and take it up. An intelligent man aware of ‘his responsibilities’ would make this world better, a fool aware of ‘his responsibilities’ would make it worse.
Gandhi and Mandela felt it their responsibilities to do whatever it takes to bring a free and independent wave in their societies. They went beyond what is expected of a human, and, for the first time ever, fought wars non-violently. As we look back, we see that they considered themselves responsible for any bloodshed in their efforts
and often sacrificed their best desires for the sake of peace. On the other hand, Hitler felt it his responsibility to wipe out Jews and Non-Aryans. His maverick efforts and inhuman tendencies led to millions of deaths, but all that time he only strengthened this cruelty because he felt that he was only answerable to the Nazis and no one else. In short, he felt that he was living up to his duties and fulfilling his responsibility towards what he believed was the society.
Does that make responsibility dangerous? No it does not. But it does teach us that while we should make ourselves responsible citizens of this society, we must make sure that we do what is right for all the people and not merely for our families or our religion or our friends. Doing wrong deeds in the garb of fulfilling responsibilities is what Hitler did, and the entire al-Qaida outfit is doing the same.
We become responsible, forever, for what we have tamed. Therefore, we must make sure that the outcomes of our deeds are good, otherwise, there will always be
a dead albatross hanging around our necks.