“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I believe we live in a world of the irresponsible and unaccountable.
Are you responsible? Do you hold yourself accountable? Yes?
I’d like to meet you. And be your friend. We would get along very well.
“To say you have no choice is to relieve yourself of responsibility.”
― Patrick Ness
The Japanese have a concept, Sekinin-Kan. The essence of responsibility.
They do things out of a deep sense of responsibility. No other reason. Simply because they believe they must. To not do so would be dishonorable. A lack of integrity.
Irresponsibility is not an option.
Let’s review two real world examples.
One event happened in the United States. Right in front of my home. Personally witnessed by my wife and I. First hand.
I’m giving you the condensed version, because if I told you the ENTIRE story, you would accuse me of embellishing.
The other event occurred in Japan. While I did not witness it, my wife’s cousin saw it transpire before his eyes. He was captivated by what he saw. So much so that he picked up the phone and called me.
It was 6 PM in Japan. 3 AM in Texas. He forgot. No biggie. Besides he knows I feel the same he does about things so he thought I would want to hear this story while it was fresh in his mind. And that it would warrant a blog post.
Back to the stories.
In the first event, one of my neighbors was walking her two dogs. One on a leash, the other roaming free. My wife and I were standing in my driveway discussing our landscaping.
The leashed dog urinated on my brick mailbox. She kept walking not missing a beat. The roaming dog stopped, hunched over and defecated on my lawn.
I stood there mouth agape. “Excuse me” my wife exclaimed. The dog looked up, the lady kept walking. Repeatedly we tried to get her attention. No response. Kept walking further and further.
Finally my wife ran inside, grabbed a plastic bag, and we scooped up the dog poop. We waited for the lady, who eventually came back, and handed her the bag. She was incredulous that we would make her take the bag.
While she eventually acknowledged the poop was her dog’s, she did not want to take responsibility for it. It was just poop she said. What’s the big deal?
No responsibility. No sense of Sekinin-kan.
The second event has a much different outcome.
A Japanese lady was walking her dog. The dog, much to her chagrin, urinated on the curb. She was horrified. She apologized to all within earshot and returned the dog home.
She soon returned with a pail of water, sponges and towels. Immediately she set to thoroughly clean, rinse and dry the curb. Leaving it cleaner than before.
Sekinin-Kan. Big time.
Two simple real life stories. You can argue the events are indeed no big deal.
I would differ. To me they are examples of two significantly different takes on how to conduct oneself in life.
- Irresponsibility and Unaccountability
I choose Sekinin-Kan. Why? Simple…
“Character — the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life — is the source from which self-respect springs.”
― Joan Didion