Reflections on Responsibility as the Price of Freedom

Written by on June 29, 2020 in Personal Accountability
Responsibility as the Price of Freedom

The word “freedom” has been tossed around a lot lately, particularly in relation to resistance against guidelines meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

So, with Independence Day – our national celebration of freedom – looming I thought it would be a good time to consider what freedom really means.

Many of the most demanding voices have bought into freedom as the unimpeded right to do and say anything they want, regardless of the consequences to themselves or to others.

In fact, that has never been the case.

Freedom is not absolute. Freedom is the essence of responsibility.

In 1908 American philosopher and scholar John Dewey wrote of freedom and responsibility:

“The individual is under obligation to use his freedom in a way which does not interfere with the rights of others. To the question of absolute rights, meaning those that are exempt from social restriction, there are none.”

Sometimes it helps to consider different perspectives on a topic, so I’ve compiled the following collection of reflections on the power of choosing to take responsibility for your life.

I hope you will find them thought-provoking and inspiring.

Reflections on Responsibility and Freedom

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able to truly care about other people enough to be willing to sacrifice for them in a myriad of unsexy little ways every day. ~David Foster Wallace

I am free because I accept that I alone am morally and ethically responsible for everything I do. ~Robert A. Helmsdale

Whatever comes our way, whatever battle we have raging inside us, we always have the power to choose our response. It’s the choices that we make in the darkest hours when we have the most to lose, that ultimately define us. ~Author Unknown

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. ~Martin Luther King Jr.

The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your perspective. How you see the world, is your world. Whatever you choose to see will shape who you will be. ~Author Unknown

We are all flawed heroes. Responsibility is power. Take responsibility for the consequences of your actions, and the world is yours. Everything is a choice. ~Tom Hiddleston

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it. ~Thomas Paine

Our whole social order is in danger of self-destructing over the obsession with freedom disconnected from responsibility, where choice is imagined to be somehow independent of consequences. ~Boyd Packer

Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people choose to stand up for others. ~Suzy Kassem

To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. ~Nelson Mandela

The day I realized that I am in charge of how I will approach problems in my life, that things will turn out better or worse because of me and nobody else, that was the day I knew I would be a happier and healthier person. And that was the day I knew I’d freed myself to build a life that truly matters. ~Steve Goodier

Those who value privilege above principles will inevitably lose both. ~Author Unknown

Free will doesn’t mean doing whatever you want. It means having the freedom to do what’s right. ~Author Unknown

Freeing yourself is one thing, accepting responsibility for that freed self is another. ~Toni Morrison

It doesn’t matter if we don’t mean to do the things we do. It doesn’t matter if it was an accident or a mistake. It doesn’t even matter if we think this is all up to fate. Because regardless of our destiny, we still have to answer for our actions. We make choices, big and small, every day of our lives, and those choices have consequences. ~Taylor Jenkins Reid

You can’t pick and choose which types of freedom you want to defend. You must defend all of it or be against all of it. ~Scott Howard Phillips

Freedom of speech does not protect you from the consequences of saying stupid shit. ~Jim Hines

We all have freedom of speech. But with that freedom comes responsibility and consequences. One can spout all the anger and hate they want, but they must live with the consequences. ~Author Unknown

May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right. ~Peter Marshall

Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so. ~Noam Chomsky

Choice is the most powerful tool we have. Everything boils down to choice. We exist in a field of infinite possibilities. At any point, you can change the direction of your life with a simple choice. It is all in your hands, your heart, and your mind.

Closing Thoughts

I don’t know about you, but I cringe every time I hear someone say, “We’re all in this together.” 

It’s like being on a train – yes, we’re all on that train heading in the same direction, but some of us are making the trip in first class, while many others are in coach or the cattle car, and way too many are running alongside just trying to keep up! 

As unfair as it all seems some days, the truth is most of the people we’re relying on to lead us are making this up as they go, so it is going to be up to each of us to care enough about each other and the country as a whole to do our part to stem the spread of the virus.

So, suck it up buttercup, and climb on board!

If you long for a greater sense of freedom, then it is up to you to set yourself free by taking total responsibility for your life.

This is what it means to be empowered and it is a cornerstone in the foundation of resilient living.

Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach, and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies, and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here.

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