Taking responsibility as citizens of the world, at home and work

Do we standby and merely witness or do we get involved? How can we each personally — and then collectively — take responsibility for improving our condition in the world, at home and at work?

These are tumultuous times. The world watches as Japan is devastated by earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant failures and radioactive leaks. The world watches as people revolt, in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya. Our economy struggles to recover, yet remains so fragile that world events such as the flow of oil from Libya and the industrial uncertainty in Japan shake investor confidence.

Two experiences this past weekend prompted this morning’s blog about personal and collective responsibility. I attended a protest rally this weekend, just one of many protests I’ve joined in my lifetime. The mere act of attending, of standing up to be counted, is an act of personal responsibility. There was collective potential from a gathering of close to a thousand people coming together to send a message to our legislators. Perhaps most significant for me was the rallying cry in response to one individual’s speech, “Not on our watch.” A reminder that we can either sit back, shake our heads in frustration and let it happen, or step forward to try to influence what takes place in our lifetime. “Not on my watch.” “Not on our watch.”

While still thinking about the rally, I read Seth Godin’s blog, Idea Tourism.  “Idea Tourism” urges us to actively engage in our life’s experiences, to participate vs. just pass through.

Taking responsibility in Japan: worldwide expert counsel and rescuers, and individuals sending desperately needed financial support.

Taking responsibility in Libya: a coalition of countries vowing to help after debating what constitutes another country’s internal conflict vs. a humanitarian crisis. (This remains a controversial and difficult decision and the outcome remains to be seen.)

Taking responsibility back home: the budget crisis has sparked individuals and groups to get involved, to stand up to ensure that budget cuts are compassionate, balanced and compelling vs. knee-jerk, self-serving and politically motivated.

Taking responsibility in the workplace: managers and employees are taking responsibility, to add value, to help their companies save money, and ultimately to help create jobs so that more Americans can pay their mortgages and feed their families.  Managers and employees need to hold each other accountable for doing things differently.

These are tough times, and we all need to consciously live the mantra, “not on our watch.”  What will you take responsibility for making happen? What negative outcome can you help prevent?

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