Sometimes words don’t mean what they should, they can meander down a path of societal change until they gain a new meaning different from the original intention. Some words sound different when said slowly, and some words mean different things depending on who is hearing them. Language is fluid and forms to peoples needs of it.
I think a lot about these concepts, for me there is so much meaning in certain words. Each word carries history in its letters and knowing a very small amount can open doors into what those words mean or have meant in the past.
Ability to respond is a simple idea, it is the capacity to act in the situation you are in. It is having legs and a direction to walk, the word responsibility doesn’t inherently discuss if you should take what action you are able to take. It is only culture that adds the idea that not every action you are capable of is your responsibility. Most responsibility is given or accepted, maybe you sign a contract or officially belong to someone the way a parent belongs to their child. Parents know if their kid breaks a rule while they are young it is not the kid who will have to face the full repercussions of their actions and I know if I sign a contract for a job and I fail to do what I said I would then I will be fired, I’m responsible according to how responsibility is usually thought of.
But what do you do when you find a strangers wallet on the beach in the middle of the night? They are an adult and no contract was signed, I’m not responsible. They were responsible for their belongings and lost one of them. Maybe if I was a friend to this person before I would feel responsible, maybe then it would be a kind of social contract. It is part of having a pack or a group that all members watch each others backs. But when you aren’t a part of someones pack and they are in a tough situation why help?
I want to believe that for me the ability to act is a kind of responsibility. If I can help I want to so when I found a strangers wallet and than later found them passed out on a Thai beach at 3am I thought I could postpone sleep to help make the world less harsh for a stranger.
Maybe it is a bad thing to do, and I would by no means say that helping someone in the traditional sense is a good thing to do. Too often is trying to make someones life easier (helping) is only preventing them from learning to help themselves which is cruel. The strength to help has to have some harshness to it for the help to help, comfort and convenience hasn’t been known to grow strength in my experience.
I acted because I was the only one who seemed able to. I spent two hours helping them to sober up and searching for their hotel. We couldn’t find it and I ended up leaving them with a note telling them their wallet was at the police station. I’ll never know if I helped but I wanted to use my strength for someone elses good. Its not strength to have muscles just for flexing (sorry dudes). I believe I actually have to use what I have for it to be worth having, any strength I have stored has to be spent for it to be strength.
Plus I had to meet my quota for random acts of kindness.