I Know My Responsibilities

Said no one, anywhere.

We, at least in America, are familiar hearing, “I know my rights.”

I recently heard a former Surgeon General of the US state, “We are a nation founded on individual responsibilities.”

I thought, what an interesting take on the founding. Read John Adams (especially) but also Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and the others. They tell us that rights not accompanied by responsibilities are worthless.

But we tend to emphasize rights. Take, for example, local leaders of organizations and churches who defy the orders and suggestions to keep people separated in order to stop the spread of a deadly virus and gather their people together in close quarters. Is it ego at work? Delusion trumping facts and knowledge? “Rights” winning over “Responsibilities”?

Jesus almost always gave a responsibility after a healing or other act. “Go, show yourself to a priest.” “Go and sin no more.” “Go into the world and make disciples.”

When Jesus said to “love one another as I have loved you”, he was not talking about an emotion. It’s an action verb. It means “go-ing” and “do-ing”. It’s a responsibility, not a right.

Christians are celebrating Easter this Sunday (except for the Orthodox when it is the following week). We will not be gathering together. We will be gathering around a computer streaming services live or on demand together and separated. Choosing for our own safety as well as the safety of our friends to stay separated.

It’ll be weird. It’ll be something we talk about for the rest of our lives. But we observe our responsibilities—together, yet separate. Yes, in America we have the right of assembly. But what is our responsibility?

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