Reflecting on the year that is fast coming to a close, I am sure most people will be persuaded to consider how they have fared during the year. I hope talk of the year coming to a close is not, by itself, too early at this point. I have not seen any festive decorations or birds changing colour, but in my defense I can feel it in the air.
While every person has the liberty to decide on how to reflect on their journey of life, I wish to propose one additional consideration. Should you be considering your interactions with persons, situations and the world you live in, since the beginning of the year, I propose that you also consider “taking responsibility”. This may sound as an obvious virtue. However, it may have permutations.
Often when we think of taking responsibility, we are inclined to associate “taking responsibility” with our actions only. Hardly ever do we associate “taking responsibility” with our inaction. Since it may be easy not to do something, I would argue that “taking responsibility” should equally be associated with our inaction. Never has the latter point been so eloquently and succinctly captured by the phrase: “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – inaction. While there is some controversy on whether these (the latter phrase) are the words of Edmund Burke or even if the phrase makes sense at all, I find a justifiable indictment in the phrase – to consider my inactions.
While some may perceive the above phrase as suited for a global and political context or even for people involved in dissecting national questions. This phrase does find application in our everyday life. It does not have to be about evil and good men only. It can be about daily encounters and how ordinary men respond.
While you alone may not solve the problem of world hunger, the two Rands (R2) that you volunteer when you buy from a particular chicken outlet just may solve world hunger. The clothes that you donate at your church or local NGO will put clothes on someone’s back. The time that you spend on simple acts of kindness does make an impact. All these are actions for some and inactions for many others. Mostly, those who do not act, can and have the ability to take action. Since it is easy not to do something, the choice not to act becomes an easy option. For some, it is a case of genuine lack of realization of what requires action.
I may not be able to draw an exhaustive list of things that we sometimes overlook when we can act. Be it at home, with family and friends, at the workplace or in our communities. What I would like to do is to challenge you to identify persons and situations that you have been overlooking, while you have the ability to change. In this regard you are unlimited. It can be in your immediate environment or global.
Allow me to break the ice and take the opportunity to say to all my colleagues at KVV, at all levels, that I appreciate all of you. I will also take the opportunity to extend the same declaration to friends and family, some of whom could just be waiting to hear the words. I have taken responsibility for one of my inactions i.e. not telling those that you appreciate, that you do. The list will grow with time, no doubt. I will identify and take responsibility for my inactions in a genuine attempt to contribute to the betterment of the world.
Inaction could be the source of many things that appear as mystery in our existence, when in fact they are not mystery. Becoming conscious of our inactions could be the key to unlocking many self-created mysteries of our existence. There could be a lot of people in your environment who are suffering from your inaction and not from your actions. There could be situations that are disadvantaged by your inaction and not by your actions. While we “take responsibility” for our actions, let us also “take responsibility” for our inactions.
Joseph Leotlela | Director