That is not my job

We’ve all heard it. Heck, we’ve all said it at some point in time. Here we are minding our own business when somebody’s accident plops itself down directly in our path of an otherwise perfect day. How rude, making other people face ethical dilemmas. Fortunately we can quickly avert the situation with the simple statement “it’s not my responsibility.” Thank God our responsibilities are limited only to what’s been mandated to us by various forms of authority.

Responsibility is a funny thing; I think we often forget that we are not born with any inherent responsibility. Sure, we take care of our kids because our society and laws make very clear that it is completely our responsibility. We take on responsibilities at work, primarily those to which we are contractually obligated. More often than not, the responsibilities we do assume without big brother insisting, especially in the work place, happen completely by accident and it’s not until months or years down the road we realize we’ve accidentally accepted more work than is technically required of us, but by then it is far too late.

Now I hear you, you pay your taxes and do your job, you’re an upstanding American. But does it make somebody special if they do things they have to do in order to survive and/or not go to prison? It’s a tough question, I’ll let you think about it.

What if, instead of waiting for somebody to force responsibility onto us, we accepted undocumented responsibility as citizens, or better yet as descent human beings? Let’s look at an example.

I was laying on the bright sunny beach with my mother, reading an excellent book. As the waves come up they begin to cover more and more of my ankles, which is great since it’s so hot. Suddenly, some pesky pre-teens loudly drop their towels, Nikes, name brand backpack and other assorted, probably expensive items nearby and quickly frolic through the crashing waves. As they flirt and splash in the water like a scene from Grease, Mom points out the peril of their items. My first thought, looking out at the carefree dopes, was “welp, that sure isn’t my responsibility,” so I continued reading my book, just as calm as can be…well, kind of.

As the waves inched their way up the sparkly clean sand, I found myself nervously peering over at the assortment of belongings that are all nicer than most of mine. I’d read a line, look back at the stuff, look out at the stupid kids, and hold my breath each time the water gained an inch or two on the sand. Alas! One rogue wave swiftly grabbed the end of the beach towels, and the accompanying boogie board wiggled slightly closer to the sea as the water retreated. I couldn’t stand it; I checked once more to see if they’ve even given a thought to this inevitable tragedy, which they seemingly had not, then I got up and moved their stuff. Their towels, their
shoes, their boogie boards, their clothes. Just scooched it on up a foot or two, to where I thought it was safely out of the way. Unfortunately, mother nature moves swiftly and I had to get up again to move the strangers’ things out of harm’s way. When they were finally done having the best time ever out in the ocean, they grabbed their things almost without stopping and headed toward what I can only guess is their grandparents’ condo.

I could have just sat there. I could have let that water completely engulf all those fancy looking possessions. I didn’t have to do that. They didn’t know I did that. So why would I do that? Because I don’t wait for somebody to tell me “you have to do that” before I do something for somebody else. It may not have been my responsibility as a student, employee, or law-abiding citizen, but I choose to take responsibility as a human being sharing this earth with other people.

Of course I’ve been my fair share of selfish. I’m certainly not perfect, and I’m not sure exactly how far out of the way I’d be willing to go to help somebody out. But I can promise that I will at least reflect on it, and when faced with such opportunities I will try to remember my own words rather than fall victim yet again to anger, hostility, and laziness.

Maybe there is no “should” involved, perhaps there is no “moral obligation,” but you know when you’re doing something that benefits another person. You don’t have to, and I’m sure you could come up with a million reasons not to, but why not? Why not do something for another human being? Lazy? Jealous? Just hate other human beings in general? Probably. If anybody has an amazing reason for not performing random acts of kindness when the opportunity stares you in the face, I’d love to hear it. Until then, just remember when you leave your ID in the library and nobody turns it into the lost and found, welp…that was not their responsibility.

Love you, bye!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. andy
    Aug 23, 2011 @ 21:53:05

    2 things…one..’my fair share of selfish’ sounds funny…two…i often don’t offer help because i’m not always sure my help is wanted…i’ve tried to help people and have them get pissed…and that’s no fun when you were ‘just tryin to help…also even if they don’t get pissed it puts me in a social situation and unless i’ve flipped my switch i am terrified of social interaction…i guess that’s three things

    Reply

  2. Andrea
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 12:38:16

    Well if you try to help a man you’re demeaning his masculinity and if you help a woman you’re sexist.

    Reply

  3. Andrea
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 13:37:09

    But George, like when we found em keys in the walmart parking lot. Wasn’t our job to turn them into the people that work there, but we did. Knowhamsayn?

    Reply

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