Whether we are or not, the need remains : we got to be responsible. And I am not speaking just of what others — parents, employers or law — ask us to own, in our own interest.
The need for being responsible flows from the fact that we will always mean something to other people, and even to our pets. Like it or not, convenient or troublesome, this meaning would form from a range of aspects we present to others starting with how we look, our colour and gender, and how we behave. Mostly, we instinctively choose among those we know, or have, to gravitate towards some and avoid the others. But our need to be responsible is full-time, even among those we do not know.
In what we mean to others, one part is physical. It is our responsibility to establish our own acceptance of the face, colour, height and weight, and other physical features we possess, in order that other people too join in to the exuded comfort level. Our own negativity regarding one or more of these only confirms the negativity others might possess towards them. Even laughing on ourself about it does not cover our feeling, but accentuates it : our positivity seems more positive and negativity more negative.
The gender features demand that we be responsible for being prepared, on the watch, for what it has begun to mean to persons around or before us. For instance, breasts in women and beards in men… can provoke people into thinking offensively, if not act. Though contained just then, either self-consciously or thwarted by the eyes around, the act flowing from the thought is never far from materialising. Our responsibility would involve pre-empting unpleasant experiences through such encounters by becoming pre-aware and conscious, either avoiding such company known from before or being alert and prepared to deal with it on the trot.
We are required to be especially responsible in our relationships, whether of love or hate. Our behaviour or inadvertance during interactions could hurt — the other or oneself. For, the meanings people have of others may not flow from merely bias or prejudice, or norms attached to particular kind of relationship, but would form hugely on the spot on account of expectations and trust people have from us. These need more care and caution than we are normally conscious of; and are hence often breached, which we then need to manage.
The entire process during interactions offers opportunities to intervene at several stages, to smoothen matters or prevent some disaffection from blowing up. Almost all of us would have experienced being at our tether’s end, on occasions when we fail to contribute meaningfully to a relationship we value or redress situational breaches responsibly.
And, that 24/7 responsibility we have to ourself, for ourself, by ourself… to know our body and mind, our history — personal and collective, and ourself !