Responsibility and Action

I’ve been thinking a lot about the mess our communities, our states, our country and our world is in. I wonder if the adults of the early 1930s recognized the hardships their shortsightedness and negligence would cause their children…I wonder if they felt any responsibility or remorse. But then, they didn’t have the benefit of history on their side. Damn! We had their experiences, their learning and their systemic safeguards, but we still found a way to let greed and arrogance send us down a road of financial ruin. It happened on our watch, friends! And it should weigh heavily on our hearts. 

But then what can we do? Those of us who have worked together in the deliberation and dialogue community have a special opportunity…and responsibility. I feel we need to work overtime to make sense of our current crises, and to act responsibly in light of the deeply damaging consequences of our inaction for decades.

Here are some of the quotes I found as I tried to figure out what we might do as responsible adults in a difficult situation. They focus on our connections and our actions. I’m working on some NIF variations that might make our conversations more meaningful and powerful. I can’t just let the current crises run their course without taking some action.

A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway. –Fr. Jerome Cummings

The only way to have a friend is to be one. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.–Anonymous

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt. Fredrick Buechner 

We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone … and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something. Sandra Day O’Connor

Genuine politics — even politics worthy of the name — the only politics I am willing to devote myself to — is simply a matter of serving those around us: serving the community and serving those who will come after us. Its deepest roots are moral because it is a responsibility expressed through action, to and for the whole. Vaclav Havel

I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The power of choosing good and evil is within the reach of all. Origen

Consciously or unconsciously we all strive to make the kind of a world we like. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues. Confucius

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

So, friends…what are we going to do now? What would happen if we decided to be that “small group of thoughtful, committed citizens”? What would change? Of course, I realize that some of us may think we are already that small group. But then, we’d be reminded that the humility Confucius spoke about brings us back to our practical reality. How could we be so bold as to think we could shape anything in our overly-complex and money-dominated global society? I can only respond to that question with another: How could we be so weak as to think humility means powerlessness??

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