I’m sitting here, on a Friday night, in my 8-ping studio apartment (don’t ask me how much that is in square feet cuz I couldn’t tell you), free of responsibility yet feeling the weight of yet another month come crashing down on me. Why? Because I’m never free of responsibility; I’m responsible to myself, to other people to the maintenance of this apartment. I’m responsible to family, friends, church, future goals, obligations and commitments.

As I feel the weight of May hovering over my head, waiting to fall with full force, I’m also sensing my responsibility to people outside of Taiwan, outside of the country I live in. I’m reading about society’s ever hot debate on homosexuality and watching footage of a wrecked Nepal. I’m reading facebook statuses of those who have seen better days. This only the tip of the iceberg of current events. All of this, on top of my own personal flood of issues, is rushing in on me as I sit on my sofa on a Friday night.

I suppose one could say this is adulthood; this is what it’s like not being a child anymore, no longer free to play and dance and innocently love everything around. And yet some children can’t even do that anymore. One could also say this is the “real world” with all it’s  problems. One could even say this is all an illusion, a lack of inner peace and contentment in an otherwise stable universe.

The term “responsible” defined as the following:


[ri-spon-suh-buh l]
1. answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power,control, or management (often followed by to or for): He is responsible to the president for his decisions.

2. involving accountability or responsibility, as in having the power to control or manage: promoted to a responsible position in the firm.

3. chargeable with being the author, cause, or occasion of something(usually followed by for): Termites were responsible for the damage.

4. having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable;capable of rational thought or action: The defendant is not responsible for his actions.

5. able to discharge obligations or pay debts.
6. reliable or dependable, as in meeting debts, conducting business dealings, etc.

To me, it seems like ducking responsibility is escaping reality, but not only that. It’s also refusing to engage in life, to deny the cycle of cause and effect, and to stay locked up in selfishness. 

Reading the newspaper or keeping up with the news is never enough. Making a donation to charity is never enough. Calling in a drunk driver’s plate numbers is never enough. It will never be enough if you’re the only doing it. And you’re not. We’re not alone. All of this makes a difference.

I will admit I’m preaching to the choir here, as I am mostly writing this for myself and anyone else who thinks they need this message right now. As I sit here on my couch, in my 9th floor studio apartment, on a Friday night, in the city of Taipei, in the country of Taiwan, on the continent of Asia, I know there is prostitution going on in the city down below. I know there are people who dig through the city garbage cans looking for something to eat. I know there are people with secrets and shame so big they’re ready to end everything – or end someone else. So what can I do? Where does my sense of responsibility come in?

I can wake up every morning.

I can stop feeling sorry myself.

I can have a place in my budget for random acts of kindness and generosity.

I can smile more.

I can look for ways to help instead of passively accepting tasks here and there.

I can start a conversation with the lady I buy ____ from every morning.

I can give something away without expecting anything back.

I can be someone’s friend.

I can donate money, blood, and time.

I can write all my missionary and pastor friends a letter.

I think I just made myself a list, which implies responsibility, which leads to being a better person that can potentially impact the world around me. And how does this help the prostitute or the destitute or the orphan or the hurting? I’m going to answer that question this way: It’s when you start caring about yourself that you can start taking care of the people around you. None of us should doubt our own impact, as big or small as it may be. Take yourself seriously. Where does your sense of responsibility come in? 

One thought on “Responsibility

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