Dear Friends on the path of Transformation,
I am sitting down to write this month's distinction blog on Responsibility, and I don't know where to begin. I have the experience that if I get going, I could still be writing about responsibility a month from now. I also feel at times like I am wrestling with an eel -- when I have a firm grasp on it, it feels electric and then it slips out of my hands and I feel like I am starting all over again and it is elusively beyond my grasp; and this is after 16 1/2 years of keeping myself pretty present with the conversation of responsibility. Lisa Kalmin and I often say, that if responsibility were a football field with 100 yards, we are at about the 45/40 yardline. That being said, here goes.
Where to start?
Well, as Julie Andrews would say, "let's start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start."
So, a little refresher from Wednesday and Thursday night of the Introductory Course...
First, the event is neutral -- not from a moral perspective. But from the perspective that there is not one single way to view any event that is occurring. Taking the extreme example of September 11, 2001 and the planes being flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, there are many ways that event could be viewed; and there were many ways in which that specific event was viewed. Some people celebrated, others were devastated, others were apathetic, there were people who were enraged, and many other emotions. It is conceptually easy to interpret that the events our neutral, but then when my father gets Alzheimers, when I get in an argument with one of my partner's in parenting -- it is a lot more challenging. Victor Frankl was in a concentration camp, witnessing friends and loved ones taken away to the gas chambers and he still said, "the last of human freedoms...to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances." Meaning that it is NOT dependent upon the event that is occurring. If we could consistently remind ourselves (our egos actually), that the event that is currently occurring is neutral, that alone would provide a place of power with which to make our next choice. However I react or respond to the event that is occurring gives me a lot of information about me -- my past upsets, where I have buttons still exposed, how I have organized my paradigm.
IS IT TRUE?
Next, responsibility is a way to interpret my life. It is not a fact, or the truth with a capitol 'T.' If you enjoy philosophy and the study of great teachings throughout time, you are well aware that this is a fundamental debate of humankind. For thousands of years people have debated whether or not everything that occurs in our lives is pre-determined, a matter of destiny and fate, or whether we have free will or have a say in the course of our lives and world. People are still debating it. Scientists are researching the question, and over the past forty years with the advent of Quantum Physics, they are getting closer to an answer -- perhaps not THE answer, but an answer. That answer? That we have free will and that we have a say in how everything is unfolding. I could go down this rabbit hole for awhile, but in the interest of keeping this to a blog and not a novel, back to the basics.
Responsibility is a filter through which I am seeing myself, the world, the events of my life, circumstances and conditions. A victim puts on victim "glasses" and sees the world through that lens, creating an experience of suffering, pain, hurt, guilt, shame, fear and a whole host of grungy emotions. A person choosing to see through the lens of responsibility experiences the same events, circumstances, conditions etc. as empowering, freeing, a gift, enlightening etc. It is a choice. For the purpose of stepping onto the football field and beginning to move the ball down the field of responsibility, it is interpreting that everything that has occurred in my life, from A to Z, is because I authored it that way. I designed it that way. I created it. It is interpreting that everything that IS currently occurring in my life is out of my design. It is interpreting that everything that is unfolding around me, is unfolding according to my design.
FLAG ON THE PLAY.
If you are more analytical, you may read or hear the words, "creating it" and think that means that you DID something to have it be that way. Or that you took some action or inaction to have it occur that way. Responsibility is the realm of the BEING not the DOING. Perhaps you did something to have it occur that way, perhaps you did nothing. It is simply being in an inquiry from an omnipotent viewpoint, "how did I create this?" It is questioning internally what part of you, perhaps unconsciously was committed to being right about something, or was on a greater point than the point of whatever you thought it was that you wanted. So, if I pull the string of my bow and the arrow lands in the outer circle of the target, I can argue with the results and claim that I really wanted something other than that result. But based on the fact that my arrow landed on that part of the target, I may have thought I wanted to hit a bulls eye, but BASED ON RESULTS, I had a greater intention and that was to have my arrow land on an outer circle. In other words, ROCKS ARE HARD, WATER IS WET. The universe is the ultimate guru, always revealing to me how it is that I must have it internally. So, to extend the metaphor, I can think I want to create a million dollars, but if I keep creating around the same amount of money in my life, then it is not my intention to create a million dollars. Then, from a responsible perspective, I ask myself, why? What are beliefs I am being right about? What am I holding onto? And, in a responsible interpretation, I then acknowledge why I am creating it the way that I am up until now.
HOW DO YOU EAT AN ELEPHANT?
So, as a vegetarian, not so excited about that phrase, but it really does fit. Responsibility is an elephant and the way to keep at it is one bite at a time. When you are interpreting your life from a responsible perspective, you will be experiencing power and gratitude -- power, meaning that you see yourself as the actual designer and creator of the event (again, not literal) and gratitude, meaning that you are appreciative for the event and all that came out of the event. In fact, you wouldn't take it back in a million years. Sometimes when people are wrestling with responsibility, they will move first towards gratitude, seeing "positive" things that came out of the event. But they still see the event as something that "happened to them." Having both power and gratitude in your interpretation of events is a huge chunk of the elephant.
Other times, I hear people talk about responsibility from a global and personal context -- being responsible for war on our planet, the global climate crisis as well as the content of their lives. But they struggle with being responsible for the actions of a teammate, family member or friend. Responsibility is interpreting that I am creating everything -- the actions of my sister, war in Rwanda, my husband's mood today -- everything.
WHERE IS GOD?
Sometimes people are challenged by responsibility because they view it in opposition to their faith. Almost every religious teaching on our planet sees God as creating everything -- the Alpha and the Omega -- the All and the Nothing. In other words, there is nothing that is outside of God. From that interpretation, I am not outside of God and do not operate separately from God. I am part of that universal force and God-energy is within me. What does that mean? I have creative power. I am "made in the image and likeness of Creator" and have been gifted with the gift of creation. I am not co-creator because co implies two, and a separation with God. Also, the 'me' that is creating is not the small ego of me. It is not my personality or my will. It is the infinite and eternal within me.
So, when small group leaders staff the Intro, on Thursday night, when I am preparing them for their calls on responsibility on Friday, I tell them to get a First Down -- 10 yards on the play. For those of you who are not football fans, what this means is moving the ball steadily down the field in taking on this distinction. As LP's and Senior LP's, we all get to keep moving the ball down the field. Because as transformationalists, it is our honor and privilege to interpret life in this way. In the distinction of responsibility, you and I have the power to create anything that we envision. And, if you are like me, boy, can I envision for my life and for humanity.
In peace and love,