Lately, this question has been circling my awareness and it seems to be screaming at me from all places. From the whole Obama/pastor snafu to my own personal life, it seems our connections to others or lack thereof are up for scrutiny.
It begs the question, is one responsible for those they know and what they do? I’m a bit on the fence about this because I can see both sides of the coin. On the one hand, every person is accountable for their own actions and words. Absent any kind of physical or emotional force (at least in America) people are not made to do or say things – in fact, we are the land of freedom of speech – no country has more personal freedoms than ours. So, from that point of view, no, we’re not responsible for the actions of others. On the other hand, no man is an island – despite the latest craze of cocooning and sort of running our worlds from the one-stop shop of our computer hubs – there actually are other people out there and we come into contact with them everyday. Whether through physical or cyber means. We all have a voice and our own brand of influence – we can change people’s minds and actions. We do it all the time. Don’t believe me? You see a little child about to run into the street – you stop them just as a car zooms by. A friend is distraught over a recent breakup and maybe thinking suicidal thoughts, you stay up the night talking them down from the ledge. Or even….you write a post about something that is bothering you on your blog – a stranger halfway around the world reads it and rethinks something they were going to do, perhaps even gains some insight or perspective on the situation and decides not to do something rash or decides to do something that ends up really helping someone. See where I’m going with this?
The world and life is full of choices, some good, some bad. We can bury our heads in our butts and pretend we don’t see things or recognize cries for help or we can open ourselves up to all and everything out there. And it’s the little things too that I think that sometimes mean the most. Sure, we like to all get involved in ’causes’ help fight drug abuse, breast cancer, MS, oppression in China, imprisoned bloggers, expose nasty politicians or corporate malfeasance and there’s nothing wrong with it. But there is so much going on right outside your own doorstep that I wonder if tending to that, doesn’t have a greater overall effect. Maybe it’s the trickle down effect – know what I mean? Where that one little action you take can change a whole sequence of events of which you are not even aware?
Today, Blog Catalogue is doing a blogger human rights event. The idea is to get all the bloggers to unite and discuss human rights across the world. A lofty goal and worthy too. And I thought about finding some big issue and writing about it – but instead I thought that big issues only become big because the little issues are ignored and left to fester. I wonder, if we all just did whatever we could to stop injustice and enhance the quality of life for all those around us (including ourselves) if the big issues would ever come to be. Don’t you?
I guess in the end, I do believe we are our brother’s keepers. And we wear that responsibility by the way we treat others and ourselves. By the way we reach out or pull back. By the way we view the world. By our attitudes and philosophies – by our inclinations to help or to harm – to share or compete. To me, human rights aren’t about some big issue ‘out there’ it’s about all the many little things in our own backyards.
What do you think?