Over the past few weeks, I am seeing quite a few references and memes on Facebook spreading the message that the world does not owe you anything.  The translation often times is suck it up.

While I understand the concerns around what we call a sense of entitlement, I also have observed that all generations experience this sense, feeling owed for something they believe deserved.  The difference is to what each generation feels entitled.  But that is another post to explore, sometime down the road.  For now, I simply question the spirit of this claim that the world does not owe us anything.  While independence and personal responsibility are virtues to be admired and respected and honored, the proliferation of these messages seems very first world and born of opportunity.  Claiming that the world does not owe you anything when you are born into a region of the world of relatively high affluence… well let me respectfully say that that is almost too easy.

Let us say you are born into economic squalor and violence.  Oh, I am sure that there are some who find their way to survive, but not without help along the way.  My point is this.  Read the virtue of Responsibility.

I am accountable for what I do.  Yup.  That certainly speaks to the world not owing me anything.  I keep my agreements; that does too.  I give excellence and focus on my own part.  Indeed, these do too.  And I make amends for my mistakes… it references the sentiment of the world not owing me anything.

But much of this virtue speaks to what I also call our response ability.  The world may not owe us anything but part of responsibility is how we can be of service to others.  If we are each responsible to ourselves, we develop a sense of independence which is a strength.  Still, when we practice responsibility to others; well that is the other side of the coin.  In fact, we can and should both offer and seek out help from others because no one does it alone; whatever it is.

Cliches are cliches because they speak a truth.  The world does not owe us anything.  But cliches can be dangerous too, when we do not think them completely through.  Responsibility is both personal and social.  Maybe there would be less calls for help if help was more readily offered.  We are here for ourselves and others, and we should be building cultures and communities that encourage both.  Personal responsibility is a strength.  Social responsibility is as well.  The former without the latter is self-centered.  The latter without the former is lacking self care and attention.  We need both.

I recently experienced Batman vs Superman,  and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I will see it again.  Without spoiling it, the closing message had much to do with being there for each other and for the world.  No, the world may not owe us anything.  But, we owe it to ourselves and others to practice responsibility inwardly and outwardly.

That is response ability.  We need it in school, in our families and companies and communities.  It is called having the backs of those around us.  Check it out.

Peace, passion and prosperity.

Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™




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