I am really big on taking responsibility for the choices we make. This morning was a good example. My son came in from shovelling the overnight dusting of snow and was complaining that his hands were freezing. Truth is, it is really really cold here right now, at the time it was probably -30 Celsius. But he was only out for a few minutes, and being good Canadians we have lots of really thick, keep you warm in the Arctic types of clothing around. For some reason, the boy had chosen his light, leather gloves to wear. They were very stylish indeed, but he’s lucky he didn’t get frostbite. When I suggested he might have wanted to put on better gloves, he defensively responded that if he had come in, he wouldn’t have had time to get the walks finished and then I’d be mad. At that point, my sympathy for him evaporated. I told him it was time to take responsibility for his actions. His hands were cold because he didn’t take the time and care to dress appropriately. His responsibility, not mine.
Now he’s only 13 and therefore learning. And the consequences of not taking responsibility were fairly mild in this case (no frostbite even!). But I have been thinking about this concept as the news of the cruise ship tragedy in Italy continues to pour in. Today tapes of a conversation between the coast guard and the ship’s captain were released. Apparently the captain was being ordered back to the ship by the coast guard (apparently only because I don’t speak Italian so have to trust the translation), and he was making many excuses for why he was refusing to re-board the stricken vessel. In my books, that is another example of not taking responsibility for his actions. He was the one who took the ship off course which led to the disaster, and he was the one who got off before ensuring the crew and passengers were safe. He shirked his responsibility.
Now that is definitely a more extreme example, but the basic concept remains the same. If we are consistent in taking personal responsibility, we can live lives of integrity. So that is why I expect my children to wear the appropriate gloves to shovel the walks, or change the toilet paper roll when it runs out. We need to take responsibility for all of our actions, even the little ones. With practice, we’ll be able to take responsibility for the big ones too.